3 Ways To Ensure a Successful Internship
By Nikki N.
As my internship ends, I have reflected on the successes and challenges of my internship. Over the summer, I worked to encourage nail salons to join the Healthy Nail Salon Recognition Program and to educate workers and consumers on the occupational hazards in the workplace. After working with both the Occupational Health Internship Program (OHIP) and the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, I realized that there were 3 main factors that made my internship a success:
- Self-advocacy: When I first started, my scope of work was limited to outreaching to nail salons and to the public were able to find content gaps in educational materials for nail salon workers and consumers and address these gaps. Because we took the initiative to advocate for ourselves, my partner and I were able to create a compliance worksheet, information flyer, health and safety factsheet, and compile 12 profiles of nail salon workers and their children to publish on social media.
- Planning in advance andself-reflection : When I first thought about the 9 week internship, I didn’t think it would be enough time to make an impact; however, those 9 (or 10) weeks can make a huge difference to a community or an organization. Being effective in a short time period requires thinking about potential challenges, coming up with a plan and sticking to it. For example, my partner and I anticipated it would be a challenge to get people to think of us as professionals because of our ages. We had to anticipate this challenge and make plans for how to address this (showing our knowledge and being very kind). It was also important for me to self-reflect on my internship to think about what I liked and disliked about my experience; I liked the personalized connections I made with the workers but I could not see myself doing educational work for long periods of time. This made me realize I wanted to impact a few people deeply and to hear people’s stories, which solidified my desire to enter the medical field. Without self-reflecting, I might not have come to this realization about my career path.
- Asking for help when necessary: Although it may not be easy, supervisors are there to help provide you with guidance. It is from asking advisors that my partner and I were able to come up with some of our projects ideas and to obtain incentives that we would use to motivate consumers to listen to us. It was important for me (and for others) to realize that the internship is a rare opportunity to learn about something cool in the field of Environmental and Occupational Health. I discovered that we must be in control of our learning even if we need to ask for help along the way. When there is a potential issue, it is always best to address it early (like my partner and I did when we wanted work so we can have the best experience possible.