We usually associate internships with long hours, menial tasks, low wages and difficult bosses. But, while being an intern is undoubtedly a challenge, it’s also the best possible way to get a sense of what a job is like and how suited you are to it. Here’s our guide on how to get the most out of your internship (without being a coffee mule).
Do your homework
It’s crucial that you read up on the company before you start your internship. Surface level knowledge won’t suffice if you want to make a strong impression as a potential full time hire. Don’t just scan their website – search their social profiles and check for any reviews, articles and events connected to the business – anything that might offer an insight into their culture!
Have a plan
After you’ve researched the company, research your role. What department will you sit under? Who will you report to? Think about what you want to get from your time as an intern and how you will achieve it. Know your worth, your strengths, your weaknesses and your ambition.
Taking the initiative in a role and trying to find solutions to problems independently is a great way to impress your peers and management but don’t do it to your detriment. Remember, you’re there to learn so don’t feel awkward about asking questions – it’s the quickest way to get to grips with the company and your position there.
Building a network of contacts is one of the most important aspects of an internship. Don’t underestimate the value of connecting with colleagues even if you know you won’t be a permanent fixture. Introduce yourself to as many people as possible and attend as many meetings as you can to get a feel for the industry.
An internship should not be easy – if you’re not challenging yourself, you’re not gaining anything.
If you feel like you’re coasting, pursue extra tasks and responsibilities by suggesting to your superiors ways you can add value. That said, it’s important to accept that not everyone will be willing to help you and that there’s a fine line between being persistent and annoying. As with anything else, you need to find that balance!
Don’t be a yes man! Your colleagues and manager will respect you a lot more if you address any issues you’re experiencing. While the odd coffee run or filing task may be par for the course, you’re an intern not a lackey. As such you should question any tasks that you feel are an abuse of your position.
Ask for feedback
This is the most crucial part of any internship.
There is often an attitude of “no feedback is good feedback”. Don’t accept this.
Ask for ways in which you can improve. Don’t just limit this to your direct supervisor but anyone you’ve being working closely with that would be open to offering advice.