5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Internship Why being at the bottom tier of an organization is the best thing you can do to one day reach the top.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
I work in the world of sports, and I know firsthand that a sports internship is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And that is true of an internship in any field you're interested in. My mentor, Leigh Steinberg, gave me this advice and it has stayed with me all of these years: "Be kind to your future self."
Nothing could be a better example of this than an internship, which not only benefits the intern but the company as well. And I'm not talking about "free labor" for the company or something you can stick on your resume for the student, I'm talking about real, lasting benefits.
Related: You're Never Too Old for an Internship
Many successful interns are able to leverage their success for jobs both inside and outside the organization where they are interned. Having worked for decades in business, I've seen that internships, like the one program we have at Sports 1 Marketing, can help change people's lives—and make the companies they work for better. In light of my experience, I'd like to lay out some of the benefits for both the intern and the company in order to help you understand how to be kinder to your future self.
1. Learn what kind of job will make you happy.
Happiness is defined as the enjoyment of the pursuit of our potential. Having different experiences and learning from others allows people to find out what characteristics and values in are aligned with their personal happiness. In other words, an internship allows you to dip your toe in the water of an industry you think you want to work in. Find out if you really do love it -- or actually hate it -- before you make a huge commitment.
2. Increase your situational knowledge.
Anytime we are able to have hands-on experience, understand and increase our situational knowledge, we should take advantage. Interns get to learn the ins-and-outs about an industry and see firsthand how things are done in the reality of day-to-day business. Pull back the curtain on your dream job, see how it all really works.
3. Add tools to your toolbelt.
Combine skills, knowledge, and desire to create effective habits that drive success in the sports industry. These skills and knowledge are attributed to hands-on experience. You do not just get to see what tools are needed to succeed, but actually, learn and develop your own "tool belt".
4. Expand your relationship capital.
We've all heard the phrase, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." Personal relationships and building those bonds are opportunities to put your effort in the forefront. By being of service as an intern, you enhance a company and have the opportunity to show just how impactful you can be.
5. Don't pay the Dummy Tax.
As an intern, you're allowed to make mistakes (or witness others' mistakes) and learn from them. At any company, there are mentors who will be willing to teach you about the "dummy tax" they've already paid. Learn from other people's mistakes and missteps to accelerate your pursuit of success in the professional world.