By definition, an internship is the bridge that links student life to professional employment. A unique opportunity to ‘taste-test’ the working world before you actually commit to study for the industry. It’s also a fantastic low-risk chance to experience the ‘real world.’
No two internships are the same. It’s crucial that as an intern, you receive valuable insight and knowledge in exchange for your time. A good program will allow you to join in meetings and accept higher responsibility. A great program will encourage you to actively contribute and be held accountable.
So, ready to say goodbye to sweet old student life and hello to the workforce?
Turning your internship into a career means keeping a few key things in mind:
A positive attitude and unshakeable work ethic are qualities that will impress every employer. You should turn up determined in the first week and every week after. Keeping up your enthusiasm each time you step into the office will let your manager see that you don’t let opportunities slip by.
Often, interns are presented with situations that can challenge confidence and work ethic. Let’s be honest here – internships aren’t always known for their prestige. All in all, perseverance is your best friend. No matter how out of depth you feel, demonstrating a tangible excitement for a task is the best way to stand out to your colleagues.
If you aren’t willing to be held accountable for your actions, then shouldering responsibility loses its value. A reliable employee is willing to raise their hand to accept a mistake, as well as take credit for a triumph.
Defining the parameters of your position as an intern can be tricky. Sure, you work for the business. But you don’t have a contract, right? This begs the question – can you then have the same responsibilities as an employee? Most interns aren’t in an employable relationship, receiving no income for their effort. But this doesn’t make your work any less important. Stay accountable for every task that you carry out in order to show you take the opportunity as seriously as possible.
There’s nothing quite like trying to manage time in your first job. The pressure to perform in an unfamiliar environment with different standards is enough to keep the best of us awake at night. But achieving the right work-life balance is a huge lesson. Not only integral to your productivity, but your health and happiness as well!
Even interns need a break sometimes. Scratch that, especially interns. If you’re given a large workload on a limited schedule, show that you can manage your time with confidence and understanding. There’s a difference between working late one night and hitting the keyboard until the early hours each day. You’ll only burn yourself out.
Trying something completely new is hard – that’s the way it is for most people. So start with the small milestones first and introduce yourself to team members. Raise your hand if you notice a problem, then step it up and offer a solution.
Take control of the situation by choosing your own actions. Any approach is better than none at all. It highlights that you can work independently; a key attribute of an effective professional. If you don’t feel comfortable making the big calls, consider enrolling in a local workshop or short course to up-skill. This will snowball your experience and give you extra knowledge to apply at your internship.
Not sure about the workplace culture? Don’t feel motivated by your tasks? This is the best way to find out. Not every internship will end in a job and if you don’t feel like it’s the right place for you, leave on good terms when you call it a day.
There are many reasons interns choose to leave their positions, most of which are genuinely warranted. Remember that you are the one who has put themselves out there and that you can walk away at any time. Interns have power too!
Trust your judgement because your gut instinct is usually right. The world is filled with opportunities and there will always be another internship. If, however, you feel the job is everything you’ve ever wanted, then don’t let it go. Ask for the position yourself! One word could make all the difference. Never assume that your manager knows all of your inner-thoughts.