It’s January and that means many students have already started winter internships in public accounting or are going to start within the next couple of weeks. Internships are a very exciting and rewarding experience, but they can also be quite intimidating. Every student has some amount of anxiety going into their internship, but lots of them are wasting valuable time and energy worrying about items they can’t change. I have heard many students worrying about what kind of client they will get, what their senior will be like, or even simple things like is it going to be raining on my first day? Yes, we all want certain clients and we all hope our seniors are easy to work with, and yes rain can make a mess of things but it affects everyone. The point is that worrying about things you can’t change is only going to cause anxiety. Instead you should devote that time and energy to the things you can control.
What are the things you can control? Attitude should be top of that list. No matter how many hours you’ve been working or how lousy the weather is outside you can always control your attitude. A positive attitude will not only make your day go better but it will also make you a much better worker, and that’s important since the firm is trying to decide which workers they want to hire.
Attitude also has a lot to do with professionalism, and I don’t just mean walking the walk and acting like a big shot. The kind of professionalism that will make you stand out is punctuality, being willing to help with any task that needs to be done, and staying off of Facebook when there’s work to be done (yes that does happen). You probably won’t have much control over what time you leave at night but you certainly can control whether or not you get to work on time. I say that and I know many of you are instantly going to think “what about traffic” or “what if I get a flat tire.” That’s going back to worrying about things you can’t control. Instead focus on “am I giving myself enough time to get ready in the morning” or “do I have everything ready to take to the office tomorrow?”
I know a lot of this sounds like a no brainer and it is, but it’s still easy to forget that when you find yourself under a lot of stress. Just enjoy your internship and focus on being the best employee you can be, not on all the possible things that could go wrong. Not only will you come off better to your employer but you will enjoy your work much more.
Oh, and one last bit of advice… just because there’s free food doesn’t mean you have to eat it.