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As a young professional deciding on my career path upon graduation, I have learned the importance of getting internship experience before starting a full-time position. Internships provide the chance to explore interests and get a taste of working in a certain industry before making your decision to commit. Throughout my experience at 3Q Digital, I learned about the ins and outs of digital marketing, and I will be forever grateful for the knowledge and experiences I have gained.

When I started this position back in August, I was confident in my abilities to complete tasks. A simple three-step formula — analyzing a problem, formulating the solution, and implementing it — seemed to be a foolproof process that worked for any situation. However, as my internship continued, I uncovered many tasks that did not fit my predeveloped model.

Learning about myself was one of these tasks, and I realized that turning my focus internally instead of externally was a greater challenge. With one-hundred trillion neural pathways in the human brain, we have a lot of characteristics difficult to tease out.

There is no three-step formula for this type of learning, but hands-on experiences certainly can help. Along with the variety of knowledge I gained from my position at 3Q, I was given the opportunity to recognize parts of myself that were previously unseeable. I had the ability to acknowledge my strengths and shortcomings through personal experiences, communication, and managerial reviews.

I will use the lessons I have learned here throughout the rest of my professional career development. Many of these points are applicable to all professionals, whether you are a recent graduate or years into your career. Here is a list of initiatives I have learned from my internship at 3Q:

Be proud of your piece of the puzzle.

For an intern in one of the most widely respected full-services agencies in digital marketing, the corporate totem pole can seem like a never-ending tower. At times I wondered what effect my tasks had on the company as a whole.

I learned that it is important to remember that your impact matters. A company in essence is a giant team. Team, by definition, is “the willingness of a group of people to work together to achieve a common aim.” Your job matters to the outcome of this team. If your footprint is difficult for you to see, this leads to my next lesson…

Understand that you don’t know everything.

There is nothing more admirable than an employee who has done their research. Being knowledgeable is not just important during the interview process; it’s equally important in whichever role you pursue. It is crucial to take the lead to educate yourself in order to succeed and be proactive. This will also allow you to generate new ideas that make you stand out from the pack.

When you cannot find the answer to further your own knowledge, don’t be afraid to ask! Employers love it, and communication is the key facilitator of mutual understanding and optimal work quality. Asking questions builds relationships within teams and promotes workplace satisfaction. Overall, going the extra mile is a win-win.

Smile, always.

Okay, this is a biggie. As I interned at 3Q, I noticed a key element that shone through every employee I interacted with. They smiled. This was apparent through their words, their tone of voice, the quality of work, and of course, their faces.

The simple act of moving your face muscles has many benefits. Studies show that smiling raises moods and lowers stress levels. The happiness a smile creates can also be contagious. Dr. Eva Ritzo, psychiatrist and co-author of “The Beauty Prescription: The Complete Formula for Looking and Feeling Beautiful,” suggests that smiling at yourself in the mirror can trigger mirror neurons and help us relax in times of stress. In turn, smiling helps with work quality and attitude on the job, creating an approachable and all-around better atmosphere at work.

Focus on the golden rule.

A team is only as strong as the connection between its members. A major facet of communication is respect. When speaking with your boss, a coworker, or the office janitor, treat everyone with the respect you would like to recieve. Always say thank you, send follow-ups, and treat people with regard to their feelings. It is important to remember that we are all humans, and a little kindness can go a long way.

Make a list, and check it twice!

The last lesson I learned is how to keep myself organized. Everyone has a different organizational method, from Post-It notes on your desktop, to a Google calendar. Personally, I love physical planners. There’s something timeless about going to your local stationary store and searching for that perfect agenda to fill with information.

Wherever you decide to keep your list, make sure to check it twice. Something I like to do after I finish an action item is to check it off on my list, and then go back to the completed task to make sure it’s all ready to go. After I review my work, I put a second check mark next to my initial check to symbolize that this task is all set and I’m ready to move onto my next project.

Wrap-up

At the end of the day, you have to do what is right for yourself. Each individual is unique and strong in their own specific way. The most important takeaway I learned from my internship with 3Q is to celebrate your uniqueness and create a plan that works for you. There is no three-step formula for success, and all we can do is learn as we go along. Whether it be about ourselves or our environment, practice makes perfect.