Today’s post is the final installment in a series following University of Richmond students through their internships this summer. To read about Luka Klimaviciute’s, ’16, application process and more information about her internship, check out Part 1 and Part 2.
I learned a lot during my internship at the European Parliament Information Office (EPIO) in Vilnius and time flew by. Here are some of the most important things I took away from this experience that could benefit any current or future intern.
To begin with, two months is shorter than you think. I spent the first month at the EPIO just learning the ropes. While I felt more competent and useful during the second month on the job, the third month would probably have allowed me to show everything I can do and feel confident about it.
My advice to those interning for only one or two months is to do a lot of research in advance, not just about the organization you will work in, but also the field that organization belongs to. I knew what type of work to expect at the EPIO and a little about the politics of the EU before starting, but, once I arrived, I realized I had a lot more to learn. My colleagues were using a lot of insider vocabulary, which took me some time to get accustomed to. Apparently, such acronyms are used for the committees of the European Parliament. The information I knew about the organization as an outsider did not match what I needed to know as an employee or an intern. Doing a lot of prior research about the main partners or competitors in the field might help you out during those first days to get the grasp of everything.
Career advisors, personal mentors, parents and relatives – everyone I know – stress the importance of networking for the sake of better career prospects. However, only after working eight hours a day did I understand how important it really is to work on professional relationships, not just for the future, but for the present as well.
I was very lucky to have another intern working at the EPIO at the same time with me because we performed better when working as a team. Karolina, the other intern, was more experienced working with Microsoft Office and writing in Lithuanian. She gave me tips, while I was able to help her with English e-mails and shared some insights about Google Drive. Not only did we both benefit from our different sets of skills, but we formed a nice friendship as a result of our common effort.
While making friends is probably not on the top of the list of goals you hope to achieve during you internship, it makes your work and daily life more interesting, especially when spending so much time with the same people. Small gestures like asking about your colleagues’ weekends, vacations, or complimenting them on their outfits can go a long way to making your overall experience pleasant.
I really enjoyed my summer and the experience at EPIO. I learned a lot and it gave me a good perspective on the type of work that I will consider doing in the future.