April is Internship Awareness Month, a time to celebrate interns and to bust the myths and misconceptions associated with internships. Internship programs are an opportunity for businesses to foster new talent and get the chance to teach, mentor, and jumpstart someone’s career. They are extremely important for young professionals and employers alike. Not only do students who have internship experience increase job offers by 16%, but with interns on board, current employees can disperse their workloads while providing opportunities for growth and practical industry experience. As I prepare to celebrate my one-year anniversary as a Mitel intern and head into my new role as a full-time employee, I’d like to take an opportunity to look back over my years as an intern and bust five of the most common internship myths that float around in the working world.

Myth 1: Interns only work on beginner-level tasks.

A good internship will allow you to branch out and fulfill tasks that are challenging and important to the company. At Mitel, I interview employees for blog features, post on social media, and brainstorm and write content for internal and external audiences. My work is valued, and my managers and team place a lot of trust in my ability to perform these tasks. Mitel gave me both the autonomy and responsibility to create content on my own and the support and guidance to feel confident in what I produce. The best internships are the ones where you have the space to grow and develop. To learn, you must have assignments that allow you to jump out of your comfort zone and do the best job you can. Your work is worthwhile!

Myth 2: You are on your own during an internship.

Companies may expect interns to do their daily tasks without help. Some may have managers that reach out to their interns as an afterthought. In a worthwhile internship, neither should be the case. Meeting with managers at least weekly, going over questions and feedback on assignments, and developing relationships with your team should all be something companies aspire to provide their interns. At Mitel, I am supported by my managers and developed great relationships with other teams. I can always reach out to anyone if I have questions or collaborate on an assignment, and I meet with my manager every time I finish a task to go over it. Interns will be the employees of tomorrow, and the importance of arming them with not only experience but also valuable feedback will only make them better contributors when they take on future full-time roles.

Myth 3: You can only work within your titled position and known skill set.

This is a big one. Some internships can be very structured, while others are not. Interns may feel uncomfortable taking on assignments that are not part of their prescribed role. However, the point of all internships is to learn from experience. If you’re curious about another aspect of your field other than the responsibilities assigned within your internship role, feel free to ask about it! My managers encouraged me to ask about anything I am interested in, whether within my assigned responsibilities or outside of them. Don’t be afraid to take on something that you are excited about but not experienced with, because it will only diversify your skillset and set you up to be more secure and confident.

Myth 4: The purpose of interning is only to gain experience in your role.

The most accepted notion about internships is that they are for gaining practical work experience. While this may be true in part, that is not their only purpose. They are also important for improving your cooperation and collaboration skills, developing professional connections, honing your ability to problem-solve and time-manage, discovering your career interests, and more. Take full advantage of your time with a company to not only become better in your role but to learn to be a valuable teammate and to develop your soft skills. Openness to criticism, stress management, teamwork, creativity, and adaptability are just as valuable as being good at your job. While your role may be specific, these soft skills are something that anyone can work on and improve within an internship, regardless of your field.

Myth 5: Remote internships have less value than in-person internships.

As a college student during COVID, most of my internship experience was remote. In my time as a Mitel remote intern, I can say that my experience was just as valuable if not more so than my sole pre-pandemic, in-person internship. The value of an internship does not depend on your physical environment – it has more to do with the guidance you receive from managers and team members, the responsibilities you fulfill, and the company’s level of investment in helping you develop as a professional. If you are given the tools to succeed, you can prove your value to a company in any environment. With Mitel, that meant being provided with collaboration and communication tools like MiCollab and MiTeam Meetings for messaging, calling, and video meetings to always feel connected to the team. As the world continues to see the growing value of remote and hybrid work, the opportunities to intern remotely will only increase. Remote working solutions such as the ones Mitel provides will continue to be integrated to make online internships equally beneficial to in-person ones. Never feel as though these internships are less valuable, or that working in person is always the better way to learn. If a company has a great internship program and is interested in developing you professionally with the help of seamless unified communications tools, as Mitel has with me, the physical environment is a non-factor.

Avery Huffman

Social Media and Content Specialist

Avery Huffman is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Public Relations and Corporate Communication. She enjoys writing and telling meaningful stories and creating interesting internal and external content.

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