What interns need to build their own experience: Trust, flexibility and humanity

How my successful experience at Lifeblue has changed how I view internships entirely…

An internship is a great way to earn the professional experience you need, but it’s also the greatest time in your life to learn quickly about your interests and working style — and most importantly, to gain confidence you need for your real work life. 

My first internship with Lifeblue was successful because of how the company trusted me from the start and gave me the flexibility to shape my own experience. The timing of my second internship was perfect because the company was ramping up preparations to launch its new SaaS ticketing platform, called TurnStyle. 

As the only intern to go through two full internships at Lifeblue, I wanted to share what I learned about how to make the most of them. 

How was I able to create my own experience?

I asked for and received flexibility, responsibility and specific feedback.

My role as a Content Marketing Intern has involved: 

  1. Repurposing, creating and planning Lifeblue’s multimedia content for different audiences.
  2. Optimizing that content’s SEO by using SEMrush and Google Analytics to track trending keywords.
  3. Creating standardized content structures for the launch of TurnStyle’s website, social channels and other messaging.

While this experience may sound great on a resume, I think the opportunity I gained the most from was being able to learn the TurnStyle brand, to help build the brand, and to share the brand — learning behind the scenes of the business. 

Having flexibility in my work was a huge reason for the positive outcomes. I never felt agonizing pressure or demoralizing imposter syndrome that most interns often face. My mentors cared more about how I learned than if I finished tasks. As a result, I felt that I was in a safe environment where I could discover my preferred methods. I felt empowered without feeling overwhelmed or micromanaged. I was always reassured when my mentor Kate sent me helpful articles about my work rather than always asking when it would be done.

Use these takeaways to get the most out of your internship:

  1. Find an environment that empowers you to be curious and to have freedom in creating your own experience. 
  2. Be intentional about your work and your conversations. Don’t just go through the motions.
  3. Be willing to be vulnerable and human. Your work is part of your life. Look for safe spaces to talk about more than just what work you’re doing. 

Lifeblue’s environment, built on trust and flexibility, allowed me to explore the aspects of brand-building I found most interesting, such as identifying TurnStyle’s content archetype. Having casual conversation rather than formal meetings with executives led to more passionate discussions about our interests. I believe having the time set aside to network with others has allowed me to remain curious about my work. 

If you feel you never have time to have deeper conversations, you should assess what you value. How you spend your time and energy reflects what inspires you.

One of the most eye-opening conversations I had was with my boss, Will, when we were discussing the value of being intentional. He said interns can get so mixed up in an overwhelming number of tasks that they forget to pause and ask, “What is our intent? What is our purpose?” 

The sooner you figure that out, the sooner your decisions come easier and the “work” you do becomes less tedious and more aligned with your interests. 

At the end of the day, the most important lesson I learned is to be human at work. Yes, you are at work, but that does not mean you can’t talk about weekend plans or any stress in your life. Will and I would have hour-long 1:1 chats that were evenly split between talking about work and our personal lives. Every Friday, my week would end with Will and I watching trailers from fun movies or older trailers from his younger days (not that I’m calling him old). 

Work-life balance is real, and it’s even better when you can talk a little about life at work. 

That time Will was making a metaphor while using the egg-making scene from Big Night (1996).

Final Point:

I felt empowered to start my Mondays and have intentional conversations with team members without waiting for orders from my Will. I remember feeling oddly excited the Sunday night before TurnStyle’s launch. Typically young professionals, including myself, feel the Sunday Sads/Scaries for the work week ahead. Instead, I felt a desire to hop on Slack to click through different channels or make a list of tasks to help my team through the upcoming week. 

For the first time in my career, I felt empowered and energized to shape my own experiences while learning firsthand what it’s like to build a brand from the ground up.

Lifeblue has given me the opportunity to redefine my internship experience, allowing me to learn some of the most meaningful lessons that will help me as I continue my professional life. I especially want to thank the content team and the greater group at Lifeblue for fostering such a unique learning environment. 

To those seeking internships or experiences similar to this one, I urge you all to take advantage of this time as it’s a great opportunity to see what maturity looks like in both a professional and personal setting. Follow your passions and interests, learn more about how you work best, and never question your worth — we all start somewhere.

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