In the workplace, introverts get a hard rap. Not only are they labeled as unenthusiastic and poor team players, but others may assume that because they prefer to work quietly on their own, that they’re actually unproductive, or even worse, inattentive. In reality, introverts are capable of tackling the same tasks and responsibilities as extroverts; they just tackle them in their own way.
If you feel as if you’re an introvert, you may be worried about your inability to compete with extroverted interns. Don’t fret. In fact, because of the introvert tendency to think through situations before reacting, you actually have a lot of clear advantages over extroverts. Here are five ways you can shine as an introvert in your internship:
1. Quality over Quantity
Introverts are thinkers. You might not come up with five new ideas and excitedly share them over the course of one brainstorming session, but the idea you do come up with will be the cream of the crop. Rather than bursting out the idea the moment you conceive it, you’ll quietly gather your thoughts in order to perfect the idea, and only then, will you share it.
Introverts will thus not give unfounded ideas, which is a great timesaver in the workplace. Even if more outspoken interns are better at making their ideas heard, introverted interns are better making their ideas implemented.
Employers are always looking for focused team members who produce high-quality work, and introverts tend to be very good at staying focused on the task at hand. They think about the problem, form a solution, and just do it without getting distracted by small talk. Bosses won’t need to ask them to solve a problem; chances are, if they have found the problem, they’re already working on finding the solution. In short, introverted interns are great at staying on task with little direction.
3. Desire to Improve
Introverted people may not seem outwardly competitive, but they undoubtedly feel a certain sense of competition. But instead of competing with others, they’re competing with themselves, a more fruitful, and engaging endeavor. They’re constantly challenging themselves to do better; which means they’ll be focused during work, but they’ll also be preparing outside of work. Introverted interns don’t just try hard on the job; they’re reading and learning more about the industry in their spare time.
Not only are introverts passionate about improving themselves; they’re passionate about upholding their interests and beliefs. If you’re an introvert interning at a substance abuse rehab center, you probably feel passionate about fighting drug abuse, and you’ll do everything you can to help the patients get clean.
5. Good Listening Skills
Introverts watch, listen, and observe in order to get all the information they need to hit the nail on the head the first time around. Supervisors won’t have to explain a concept or a process over and over; once introverts understand the idea, they’ll start looking for other places to apply it.
Tips for Interning as an Introvert
Despite all the inherent strengths introverts have in internships, it can be a little hard to figure out how to use these strengths. Here are three tips for succeeding in your internship as an introvert:
1. Take Notes
In order to calm down before an important meeting, write down all the notes you think you’ll need, or even plan out some of what you’ll say. Nobody is going to look down on you for over-preparing for a big meeting, and it’s always better than under-preparing and not understanding everything you need to do.
2. Regroup When Needed
If you’re feeling stressed or frantic, don’t be afraid to take a few minutes to calm down and regroup. Get your thoughts in order and return to work with a positive mindset.
3. Plan, Plan, Plan
Internships are often high-pressured so planning ahead of time can prevent you from having an uncomfortable “deer in headlights” moment. Yes, you’ll need to think on your feet, but your day will turn out better if you’ve prepared as much as you can.
The most important thing to remember is that even though you are an introvert, it’s not a curse—you are just as valuable a member of the team as an extrovert! You bring a different set of experiences and thought processes to the table, and that is extremely useful to any company. Instead of feeling ashamed of your introversion, embrace it—understand the importance of quality and hard work!