You may be thinking about internships in very narrow terms… perhaps as merely a means to land a job in the future. However, most internships will offer you much more than just basic job skill development.
It’s up to you to find and build on these opportunities.
When deciding where to intern, view potential internships in broader terms. Look at more than just what the employer describes they want in an intern. Develop personal criteria to help you make informed decisions about what you want to gain from the experience.
Find Someone Who Will Become Your Mentor
Many interns will have a “mentor” within the company during their internship, perhaps being assigned a person to fill that role. However, you want to develop a mentoring relationship with someone who will actually serve in the role as your mentor. Look for people who care about your development as a person and as a professional. Work with someone who you perceive will still want to take your phone calls months, even years, after you are done interning. A mentor is not a person who is only willing to help you for six weeks.
Learn All You Can About the Industry
Sometimes your internship tasks will be the stuff that no one else wants to do. However, make sure that your mentor takes the time to show you the ropes. Meet as many people through their connections as possible. Ask if you can take on a major project while you are working for the company. A market research project that you can present to the CEO, for example, will boost your career prospects. Or perhaps you’ll intern in a very diverse industry like the healthcare field, for example. Learn more than just your company; focus on how the whole industry works and who influences decisions in that field.
Take Your Internship Seriously Even if You Aren’t Paid
Don’t think of an internship as something you do just because people tell you it’s “good for you”. Take your internship as seriously as you would any other important responsibility. Come in on time, do the best work possible and learn how to be a professional. Don’t get too hung up on getting paid to do your work. Money, future employment opportunities and success all follow when you perform your responsibilities well, like a professional.
Interning may not seem like a glamorous opportunity. However, if you decide ahead of time what you want to gain from the internship and work diligently toward those goals, you’ll find it a valuable opportunity. Find a mentor who you feel will likely stick with you for your entire career, network to meet as many people as possible and learn to develop yourself into a high-quality young professional. As a young professional, keep in mind that you have the decision making power now to begin building the rest of your career. An internship is a fantastic place to start!
About the Author: Amanda Green is a student by day and a freelance writer and journalist by night. Amanda’s normal topics of choice for blogging include personal finance, career, and education, but she likes to add some variety with articles on Eco-friendly topics from time to time. When Amanda is not writing or reading you can find her at the gym or out for a run with her iPod blasting. You can read more writing by Amanda at paidtwice.com.