Isaiah Baptiste (right) spent three summers as a high school intern at Independence Blue Cross. He wrote this article to share his experiences.
Five Things I Learned From My Internship
High school internship opportunities are a chance for students like me to gain professional work experience. I started my first high school internship program at Independence Blue Cross back when I was 15 years old. I hardly knew anything about being a professional. All I knew was my grandpop used to work here, and he didn’t want me to embarrass him, so I had to put on my best suit (literally and figuratively).
I felt welcomed with open arms, and the experienced professionals I worked with explained things to me so I could learn and understand. From there, I networked and talked to different people just so they would know me. Three summers later, I am still interning here, and I’ve learned a lot.
Here are my tips for making the most of your high school internship program experience:
1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
When I first started the high school internship program, talking to older people I didn’t know and trying to do work I had never seen before was all new to me. When I opened up and started asking my manager for help and to explain things to me more thoroughly, I finally started to understand and get work done efficiently. I learned about speaking up and asking for help. Remember, “A closed mouth won’t get fed.”
2. Find ways to turn challenges into opportunities
Sometimes life throws you a curveball, and you’ve got to be ready to hit it out of the park. During the high school internship program, one of my positions wasn’t turning out quite like I expected it to, so I decided to talk to someone about it. By doing this, I was reassigned and discovered a new business area that I really like.
3. Be open to learning new things
This summer, I learned about the ways social media can be used in business. At first I wasn’t sure I would like it. But as time progressed I began to like what I was doing. Seeing all the work that gets put in behind the scenes help change my opinion of social media. Thanks to the high school internship program, I learned to be open to something different, even though I wasn’t sure I’d like it.
4. Find mentors to give you guidance
Finding a mentor is one of the best things can you do. My mentor from last year’s high school internship experience shared so much of his time and wisdom with me. We would talk about what was going on in my life outside of the internship program and what I hoped to accomplish. He would give me feedback on everything.
So don’t think that having a mentor is for people who are lost and don’t know their way. Having a mentor is like having a good friend who’s further ahead in life and knows what you’ve been through. After a while, you don’t even see them as a mentor anymore; they’ve become more of a friend. And to this day my old mentor and I are still close.
5. Start learning about financial planning
For many people participating in the high school internship program, working at Independence or another business is their first paid job. So when that first paycheck arrives, their first thought is, “What am I going to buy?” My feeling is that it’s alright to buy a few things, but the money you earn should be budgeted. After you buy the essentials (transit pass, gas, work clothes, etc.), there’s no harm in putting aside a certain amount for later. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to show your family a little bit of love!
An internship helps you to become more professional, to network, and to develop your career goals. Are you looking for an internship or know a student who is? Check out the Internship Program at Independence Blue Cross. In my experience, you’ll be glad you did!