Guest blogger, Anna Pitts, of Graduate Recruitment Bureau gives us her top 10 ways to get the most out of your internship!
So, you’ve gone through the whole pain staking process of securing yourself an internship – congratulations! But the hard work is far from over. You don’t want to waste a brilliant opportunity, so here are 10 things to do to make sure you really get the most out of it.
In no particular order…
1) Stay Organised
Make notes as you go along and write down everything crucial that you learn; useful hints and tips, insider advice and any other contacts you gain such as useful websites or email addresses of handy people to know. There would be nothing more annoying than getting home and not remembering that crucial tip your boss told you for success, or the name of the his cousin’s company in America that could offer you some work experience. Have a system to arrange your notes so information is easily accessible. You can quickly find what you are looking for and when you get back home it isn’t a horrific mess of unintelligible paper with scribbled notes.
2) Ask Questions
Do not be shy to probe the people around you for information and advice, but make sure it’s in a professional, polite way. You are there to learn so don’t be shy to query anything you are unsure of. They will be pleased you are taking an interest and are serious about your career choice. You will be surrounded by professionals in the field you want to go into so it’s silly to not pick their brains whilst you have them at your disposal.
3) Make Connections
Make yourself known and get your name out there to as many professionals as you can. Introduce yourself to all the new people you encounter; tell them why you are there. Some of them may even be interested in working with you in the future. You can never have too many connections, so don’t be shy and start introducing yourself!
There is no point being on an internship if you aren’t going to impress them. Always try your best and do the job to exceed their expectations, not just the bare minimum they ask you to do. Be someone that fits in, is polite and who people want to work with. That way, why wouldn’t they want to employ you after you’ve finished? Ask if there is anything more you can do and remember if you show you can do a good job, you will get given more responsibility which will look great on your CV.
5) Be Keen
Don’t moan or turn down the jobs that you think are beneath you. You’ve been given the jobs for a reason and besides, you might learn a new skill – even if it is remembering how everyone in the office likes their tea. No matter how menial or trivial they seem don’t question them, as long as they are within your employee rights. If you constantly feel that you aren’t being challenged, politely ask for a task with a bit more substance as you still want to appear eager to learn. At the end of the day they are your employers who will be writing your references and considering you for a permanent position!
6) Know Your Stuff
Yes you are there to learn but you will look a bit silly if you literally know nothing about the company you work for or the industry you are working in. Know the basics and do some research. That way when they ask you ‘have you used this programme before?’, even if you haven’t used it you can truthfully say ‘no, but I’ve heard about it and have done some research on it’. Chances are to get through to this stage you will have a good understanding of the company and industry, so make sure they know you aren’t completely clueless.
7) See it as a Learning Experience
Yes, internships can sometimes lead to a permanent position afterwards or once you have graduated from university but don’t get upset if this isn’t the case for you. Your internship is essentially a learning curve. It’s a placement to gain as much experience as possible and make some contacts. Don’t be disgruntled if it turns out to be nothing more. The fact that you’ve done an internship will open doors for you in the future.
8) Keep a Diary
At the end of each day write down what you did, who you met and why. At the end of the internship placement you can look back and remember each important meeting you sat in on and have a record of each deadline you met on time etc. Don’t wait until the end of the placement to try and write down everything you can remember. Also, keep a list of skills you acquire such as new computer programmes or personal attributes and an example of when you demonstrated it. That way when you are being interviewed for roles and are asked to give a situation when you displayed ‘innovation’ you already have a list to refer to.
9) Ask For Regular Feedback
Make sure you are actually doing the job right and are keeping everybody happy. Ask your boss to give you some feedback regularly so you will know if there is anything you need to change to impress them more rather than merrily continuing without really making an impact. Don’t be scared of criticism – it should be constructive and only given for your own benefit.
There is no point coming out of an internship with the same amount of knowledge and skill as you started with. Make sure you make progress and if you aren’t sure how to do something make sure you ask. They’d rather you asked and did it right than completely wrong and then have to re do it themselves.