An internship experience is a bridge between the sweet ol’ student life and the professional employee. It’s a unique opportunity to taste-test a work environment before you actually commit. Of course, it’s also an opportunity to experience the ‘real world.’
Having said that, no two internships are the same, and it’s really important that every intern receives valuable insight and experience. A good program will let you join in on meetings and shoulder responsibility, and a great one will encourage you to actively contribute and be held accountable.
Here are few things to keep in mind if you’re looking to turn your internship experience into a career…
A positive attitude and unshakable work ethic are attributes never undervalued by an employer. This doesn’t mean showing up determined for just the first week. It means keeping it up each time you step into the office. Let your manager know that you aren’t going to let the opportunity slip by!
Interns are often presented with situations that can challenge their confidence and undermine their work ethic. Let’s be perfectly honest here, the position isn’t exactly known for its prestige. All in all, perseverance is going to be your new best friend. No matter how out of your depth you feel, demonstrating enthusiasm for the task is a great way to stand out to your colleagues.
If you’re not going to be accountable for your actions, then your responsibility really doesn’t mean that much. As a reliable professional, stand up to take credit when things go well. But when problems arise or mistakes are made, take responsibility.
Often interns can struggle to define their exact role. Sure you work for the business, but you’re not an actual employee, right? In fact, most interns aren’t in an employer-employee relationship at all, receiving no monetary compensation. This doesn’t mean, however, that your work is without value, and staying accountable for everything that you do shows that you’re willing to take the opportunity as seriously as possible.
Focus On Time Management
Time management is a skill that can only get harder as you get older, but there’s nothing quite like your first serious job. Pressure to perform in an unfamiliar environment where the standards aren’t clear is enough to keep most of us awake at night. Achieving a good work-life balance is a huge lesson integral to your productivity, not to mention your health and happiness!
Even interns need a break! In fact, especially interns. You will be given a large workload on a tight schedule. So showing you well manage your own time is good work practice and demonstrates confidence. There’s a big difference between working late every once in a while and hitting the keyboard till the early hours every night of the week.
Take Action Yourself
Think of a situation that would be really intimidating. I can almost guarantee that it will include an aspect of the ‘unfamiliar.’ Trying something new is hard, that’s the way it is for most people. The same is true for your internship experience. So start small; introduce yourself to team members, raise your hand if you notice a problem. Then step it up and suggest a solution!
Any approach is better than sitting there and saying nothing at all. It demonstrates you can think for yourself, which is actually a key quality of an effective employee. If you think that you’re not aware enough to make this kind of call, then consider taking an online or short course while you work to upskill. You could also choose a path of study that includes hands-on experience to get the best of both worlds.
Figure Out if the Internship Experience is Right For You
If you don’t like the place where you’re working or feel like your learning has come to a grinding halt, then it might be best to leave on good terms and call it a day. Remember that you’re the one putting yourself out there and that you can walk away at any time; interns have power too.
Trusting your own judgment can be difficult, but usually, your gut instinct is right. On the other hand, if the job is everything you’re looking for, don’t just let it go. Ask for a position on the team! Being vocal about your interest in a position will make all the difference. Don’t assume your manager knows what you’re thinking and where you stand.
- An internship experience can be like treading a fine line, so make sure you understand your rights and don’t let employers take advantage of you.
- Take a note of all the things you’re doing! That way you can include all these new experiences on your resume.
- Rejection hurts, but don’t burn your bridges. Value yourself as a professional and as a person, and leave the business on good terms. Do that and you might even get a stellar reference!
An internship experience can be an important step your path to career success. Make the most of it, and march into the working world with poise and confidence.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Gen Y Girl.