Discuss expectations & goals beforehand
In order to get the best experience that will contribute to your future career and also to avoid disappointment, make sure that you discuss internship expectations and goals beforehand, i.e. during the interview or once you have been offered the role. It’s important to make things clear from the beginning, especially if you are doing an internship abroad and travelling to another country!
This should be an obvious one, but there are always those that don’t follow. Don’t tarnish your image with this simple point, instead be responsible and make sure that you arrive on time or even a little earlier to set up and prepare yourself for the day ahead. Even if you are doing great work during the internship, if you are constantly arriving late, this is something that will be noticed.
If you do happen to be late, inform your supervisor/manager and let them know when you will be able to get to the office.
Not only does being punctual apply to arriving on time but also with deadlines too. If you are given a task and you don’t think you will complete it in time, it’s better to let your supervisor know to keep them informed rather than them having to chase it up.
It’s important to have a life outside of work, but be aware of how these activities will impact your internship. If you are used to the uni/college party lifestyle, you will need to adjust to fit the professional environment. Going out drinking late on a weeknight when you have to be at the office at 9:00 am the next day, isn’t the best idea as someone will notice your drop in performance the next day and it will seem as you are not taking this opportunity seriously.
Questions: Good or Bad?
This depends on the questions itself.
If you don’t understand something or face a problem, of course you can ask your supervisor/mentor for assistance. However, before you do this, try to research and find the answer yourself. If you are constantly asking basic questions, it shows that you don’t care enough to try and solve it yourself and also that you don’t respect the time of your supervisor.Try to be independent and develop your problem-solving skills.
On the other hand, we have good questions, these are thought-provoking, intelligent, and show a sign of genuine interest in the business. I still remember an interview that I had, where the candidate really thought about the strategical aspect of the business and challenging situations, asking us how we dealt with this. This was impressive and therefore they got the role!
Everyone uses this phrase, but how often is it actually applied?
If you have ideas → share them! It could become a great strategy for the business that they haven’t thought of. You have a fresh perspective coming in as a current student, and this can also be an opportunity to get tasks/projects related to your interests, so don’t be shy and speak your mind!
The worst thing I have seen, is people sitting around once they have completed a task, seeming like they have nothing to do, checking their phones, facebook etc.. If you have time, get moving! Every intern works at a different pace, so if you have already completed a task before the deadline, ask what else you can help with and contribute to. Don’t waste your own time sitting around, get the best experience you can!
Everyone talks about networking, because it is very valuable. Through your internship, you are already meeting people in the industry, who have even more contacts in the industry, use this to your advantage!
If you make a great impression during your internship, not only do you have the chance to potentially continue as an employee (as most internships lead to jobs) you may also be referred for other positions by your colleagues. At the end of your internship you can ask for recommendation letters (being punctual and showing initiative definitely comes in handy now) which will be very useful when applying for graduate jobs.
Internships are a valuable experience where you can gain professional skills, understand a real business environment, and develop your industry knowledge. So to get noticed, go above and beyond your expected tasks and make the most of your time!
Article by: Arnela Hodzic, HR Officer at CareerDC