5 Tips for Making the Most of Your Internship
By Weronika Z Benning, on 25 February 2016
With many of you now securing internships for summer, or working committedly towards this end, it is natural that your thoughts will be shifting to the forthcoming opportunity and what to expect from it. There are several rules to follow to ensure that you make the most of the experience.
Do your research
Nerves may be fraught on day one and that is to be expected but make this a more comfortable experience for yourself by doing prior research into the company and the particular department you are operating in. No one will expect you to know everything but having an idea of the challenges and priorities facing the organisation will get you off to a great start.
Observe the office ‘rules’
Each working environment comes with its own set of unwritten rules and norms. Watch those around you and observe their behaviours and actions. Some companies will be more formal than others but all will expect a level of professionalism. An internship can be best viewed, after all, a lengthy job interview.
Asking questions (within reason) does not make you look stupid, it makes you look smart and curious. You have been given a unique learning opportunity so be sure to use it. Learn from the expertise around you. If you don’t understand something, say so. Better to address it upfront than have to bluff your way through the following weeks.
Enthusiasm and eagerness go a long way and are what often make the difference between a good intern and a great intern. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions if you feel there is a better of clearer way of doing a task. Interns bring the benefit of a fresh pair of eyes to a work situation. Ask to get involved in extra projects or to sit in on particular meetings to learn more and immerse yourself in the experience.
Get connected – stay connected
Make the most of any mentors you are assigned to find out about their route into the industry, the challenges they have faced and the advice they can give. Be receptive to any feedback they give you. Whilst their input is invaluable be sure to stretch your networks wider still. Go out of your way to meet with other people in the organisation and connect with them on Linked In so the benefits may continue beyond the internship itself.
There is bound to be a certain amount of apprehension, particularly on your first day. But it is important to remind yourself that you have been selected for this opportunity, often in very competitive circumstances. And that is because the organisation believes you have something to offer. But remember also, that something is not ‘the finished article’ – it is a student who is there to learn and develop. They are not expecting you to run the show but they are expecting you to listen and be willing.
By Hannah Morton-Hedges, Careers Consultant