5 Internship lessons I wish I knew before…Touring a coal powered generation plant.
This summer I’ve been interning with MidAmerican Energy Company’s Corporate Communications department in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. MidAmerican Energy Company is a regulated electric and natural gas utility company, the largest in Iowa. Right now it’s important to point out that I’m a public relations and environmental studies major. So you’re probably confused about how I ended up interning with an energy company. That’s a long story but I’m really here to tell you about what I’ve learned.
5 things I thought I knew, but didn’t really until I got a real internship.
- Don’t limit yourself to the clear-cut path. Public relations majors are supposed to intern with agencies, right? Once I realized that EVERY business needs communicators, I opened my mind to this opportunity with corporate communications. Ultimately, I opened myself up to experiences that many other students won’t get! Your internship could happen with any company.
Keep your mind open. As an environmental studies student, a small part of me felt that it just seemed wrong to intern for an energy company. However, this internship has given me a new understanding for the debate over clean energy. Energy companies are made up of people just like you and I that come to work every day to do their best. They don’t aim to pollute the earth, and you don’t want to live without electricity in your home. Keep your mind open to seeing things from a different perspective.
Speak UP! Have an idea about how to speed up a process? Suggest it. Have a question about why the business works the way it does? Ask it. Have an interest in picking up a new project? Say it. The worst thing that can happen is you learn a little, even if the answer is no.
- Have some personality, but keep it professional. Show up on time. Dress appropriately. Get to know your coworkers. Be yourself, because there’s no way to make connections if you aren’t being sincere. But don’t get too comfortable, you’re in an extended interview. Let’s put it this way: You can wear your pink blazer on the coal plant tour, but you can’t show up late.
- Do more. Meet as many people as you can through your internship and then meet even more. Do the nerdy webinars you get emails about. Some of the most rewarding experiences I had this summer were through a series of events for interns called Do More in the City, hosted by the Greater Des Moines Partnership. I networked with other interns, met local business and community leaders and even had the opportunity to eat breakfast with the President of DuPont Pioneer. Use your free time to improve yourself.
Blog was written by: Sarah Curran- Senior in Public Relations and Environmental Science from Des Moines, IA.