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How To Get The Most Out Of Your Internship

by on June 4, 2015 | Top Stories

bachelor degree

Internships – Why this attachment may be the most important part of your college life. Tip #4 will surprise you.

We all know internships are valuable. In fact, they are so valuable that most bachelor degree courses these days incorporate internship as a requirement in their curriculum. The duration of internships varies – but whether you are doing a 6-week or a 6-month attachment, you should aim to get the most out of it.

1. Be the eager beaver

The worst thing you can do is to treat your internship like a paid holiday. If you think all you need to do is show up for work and do the minimum just to fulfil your credit hours then you’ll be hurting more than just your career. You do not want to begin your working life with a less than stellar reputation. You need to be interested (even if you’re bored, fake it) and eager about the job you’ve been assigned. What you lack is experience, but with enough enthusiasm, your co-workers will be more willing to show you the ropes and welcome you in their circle.

2. Be a friend

This could be tough if you’re painfully shy, but as they say, ‘no pain, no gain’, right? This is your chance to network. Don’t stay at your desk and have lunch alone. Join others at lunch (invite yourself if you have to), participate in recreational activities or competitions for the employees and speak to someone new every day. This is your chance to make valuable industry contacts that can help you get your dream job when you graduate. Better yet, find a mentor in the company and stay in touch after your internship.

3. Be curious

Internships are a great way to find out where your interests or passion lies. If you have the chance, offer to do or help out in a variety of tasks, even if they don’t relate directly to your job description. This is your chance to find out more on how various departments come together to ensure an organisation runs smoothly. As an example, if you’re doing a general business degree, this is an opportunity to find out if your passion gravitates more to sales, marketing, or even human resources. If you work in healthcare, you could discover whether you prefer working directly with patients, or behind the scenes in a laboratory.

4. Sharpen your social skills

Working at a real workplace is definitely different from being at college with your buddies. Consider this a bootcamp for your social skills. If you keep your eyes and ears open, you will pick up the subtleties of social interaction at the workplace. For example, what’s an appropriate dress style? What’s casual on casual Fridays? How do you introduce a co-worker or your boss? How do you take part in a meeting? What level of formality is required when writing emails? What’s good etiquette at the office? Socialising and getting along with your co-workers and other acquaintances is an important skill for almost all jobs. This is your chance to get initiated.

5. Look for vacancies

If you like the organisation you’re interning with, it doesn’t hurt to do some groundwork to increase your chances of securing a permanent job there when you graduate. Ask if there will be any vacancies six months or a year down the road, for example, does the company have plans to expand? Ask the department head or supervisor what it would take to be part of the team. If there’s something you lack, work towards it. Or you could just indicate your interest: I would really love to work in the AV production crew – could you give me a heads up if you ever need someone like me?

6. Ask for a testimonial

The company you’re interning with may not be the company you want to work for. That’s OK. Perhaps during your internship you discovered that you’d rather be in a different specialty or whatever other reason. That doesn’t mean you should slack off (read tip no. 1) – you need to work just as hard anyway, but before you leave, ask your immediate superior or even the boss to write you a testimonial. That way, you have a record of what you’ve done during your internship and glowing praise (hopefully) for all your wonderful qualities. This beats merely listing your internship superior as your referee in your CV later – they may not remember all your exemplary (ahem!) traits months down the road.

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