I started my co-op (Northeastern University does extensive internships called “co-ops”) with Metis Communications about a month ago, and it has given me reassurance in the working world. I had already done several internships and co-ops, but Metis is different. I've been considering why that is, and I've come up with a few reasons. Hopefully these thoughts will help any student choosing from what seems like an ocean of internship options or any employers trying to maximize their interns' potential.
I stay busy here at Metis. If I do manage to complete everything I need to (it happened once), I ask around to see if anyone else needs help. This hasn't been the case at other internships I've done, where there wasn't a lot of communication between employers and interns. In the past, I've had too much free time and completely bored myself with menial tasks and Facebook stalking. Staying busy makes me feel useful. There's nothing more motivating than knowing that the work you're doing needs to be done.
Along those lines, the communication here at Metis is stellar. We all sit in a large, open room where we can easily hear and talk to one another. We also use Skype and e-mail constantly. I've never used Skype in an office setting, but I like it because it keeps all communication documented and clear. It also helps avoid interruptions, which as an intern has often deterred me from asking questions when I know I should.
The biggest learning curve I'm overcoming, though, is about simple employee/employer relationships. I'm not treated like a menial person because I'm an intern, and Metis' co-founders don't strut around like they own the place (even though they do, technically, own the place). I've learned that mutual respect goes a long way in a workspace.
If there's anything to take away from this, take this brief summary: treat interns like capable people, and they will act capably.
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