Long gone are the days of summer filled with poolside afternoons and umbrella drinks. Instead, I’ve traded in my flip-flops for heels, and my swimsuit for a power suit. This summer will chronicle my journalism internship in a field that’s slightly out of my comfort zone, and test my abilities to become business savvy in the big city.

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When I packed up my room at the end of Spring Quarter I had no idea how I was going to last 3 whole dragging months away from NU. After a week of checking off days from my 90 day countdown, I got exasperated and gave up. So you can imagine my surprise when I looked at the calendar this week to discover that my summer – and my internship – is already half way over.

I’ve been really lucky with my experience so far. I’ve gotten some great stories, met some of Detroit’s finest, grown as a writer and had the chance to drive a brand new Camero. But going into my junior year, I want to come out of this internship with more than just a cool story and a couple of good writing samples.

This week my managing editor John took me out to lunch to discuss my experience so far and my long-term goals. I’ve never really had a “good” editor before. When I say “good” I mean an editor who has been willing to tear apart my writing line by line to make me a better writer, give real world advice and constructive criticism – in short be a mentor. And by the end of our lunch he had offered to be just that. A 40-year veteran of my chosen career field he’s a wealth of experience and he’s definitely not afraid to tell me where I need to improve.

With at least a solid month of work experience under your belt, now is the perfect time to start looking at bosses and senior coworkers as future contacts and mentors. Chances are, if you haven’t spent the majority of your internship creating a BP bracket for Welcome Week, your employers have seen what you’re capable of and are the perfect resources to help you now and in the future. My editor has offered to go over some of my writing both during my internship and after – something that will really come in handy when I’m applying for jobs and internships in the future.

And the benefits of this kind of connection go beyond just making you better at your craft. It really isn’t what you know – it’s who you know (see It’s a Small Networked World). So thanks to John, what I know will be better developed and I’ll have a bigger pool of who I know.

So if your internship is great, take a minute to slow down and ask your boss for some feedback on your work, and if your internship sucks stop counting down the days to NU and look around the workplace for a connection that will make the experience worthwhile. It’s as simple as asking someone if they’d be willing to give you a reference or some constructive criticism on your work and could make a world of difference in your work.

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