I've noticed a recent change with students. A few years ago I would reach out to them to tell them they needed to get involved. Now students reach out to me telling me everything they're involved in. Today I want to share this guest blog from a high school student, yeah you read that right, high school student who is already interning! This definitely inspired me and hopefully inspired you too.
This is a guest blog post written by Hanah Ralston.
1. Professionalism I was a few days away from graduating high school, and I got this internship on my local Congressman’s Campaign. I was super excited, and I even got a shirt my first day! I wanted to wear that shirt every chance that I got, because I thought it was so cool that I got to represent this Congressman to all my friends and family. What I did not realize was whenever I wore that shirt, I acted differently. I had to be a representation of why I was wearing it. I had to be professional! When I would walk up to a door to ask people to complete our survey about this Congressman, I was a representation of him! You learn that even on a phone call with a voter or public official that being a professional is not only expected, but required. You may ask how I learned to be a professional just coming out of high school with no real “professional” experience. Well, I did the only thing I knew to do, watch what the professionals did around me! Your manager, colleagues, and office staff are not just there to tell you what to do, but to be an example for you! Watch how they handle situations that you may encounter, and do not be afraid to ask questions when you do not understand or if the question of “Why?” ever crossed your mind!
2. Leadership I would say that I was a leader in High School, as I was involved in Student Government, and several other school activities. I am so thankful for all of those opportunities to lead, because when I got this internship I was capable of being a leader in a different light. I was the first intern to be accepted into this campaign, so I did not really have someone to follow which allowed me to be a strong leader when others started to come into the office. It was not my job to tell the other interns what to do or what not to do, but I was there as an example of what was expected. Being able to show the other interns a strong work ethic and be there to answer their questions when needed or just to be there to help them where I struggled. This was an opportunity to be a leader. This has helped me as I have transitioned into the college world. It helped me find areas at college that I can lead and ask what needs to be done.
3. Flexibility/Willingness You learn that being flexible and willing to do whatever needs to be done is a trait of surviving in an internship! My first day I was given the task of organizing all of the merchandise that had just arrived in the office. I showed up in my most professional outfit EXPECTING to sit at a desk and learn about the campaign, but here I was on my hands and knees sorting out shirts and polos. When I would come in EXPECTING that I would be working on a specific task, it never went that way. I learned early on to not expect anything, this way I already had an open mind and could do it to the best of my ability. You have to learn that whatever needs to be done, you as an intern are going to be asked to do it and you better give it your all! No matter if it is cleaning the back room and putting decorations up, taking office inventory, or helping write a manual for the interns that would come after you. Just do it and ask how you can do it better! Doing all of those little tasks can help gain the trust of your boss and possibly bigger tasks will come your way! After doing all of the tasks listed above, making thousands of campaign phone calls, walking several neighborhoods knocking on doors, I was asked to take over a very large project. Looking back on that opportunity, my boss could have easily asked another intern to take on the task, but because he knew I was WILLING and did NOT EXPECT to do a certain task that I could take on this big project, and do it to the best of my ability, while asking how I could do better as I went.
4. Inquizitive One thing that has changed my life from this internship is finally believing that there is no reason to not ask questions! I would not speak up and ask questions in school, but my fear of doing a task wrong or being unprofessional was bigger than my fear of asking questions. Being confident enough to ask questions was something that was hard for me, but by the end I could not ask enough questions. I wanted to know why this person was doing this task and how they planned to do it and when they planned to finish. After asking all these questions, not only did my knowledge grow, but I learned I really enjoyed politics and my passion for politics bloomed out of overcoming my fear of asking questions!
5. Passion Possibly the most important one of all. I formed a passion for a career that I never really thought about pursuing. I am now in my second semester with my major declared as Political Science, because I found out that I have a passion for this career. That passion would have gone unpursued, if I did not work my hardest and gain the experience I did that summer after graduation with this life changing internship!