01 December 2016 | Career Advice | Guest Author
Thinking about applying for an internship? It’s a great way to close the gap between your student lifestyle and professional employment. Internships give you the rare chance to taste-test an occupation before you commit to the industry.
But no two internships will be exactly the same. It’s important that, ethically, you get valuable insight in exchange for your time. A good internship program will let you join meetings and take on additional responsibility. A great program will encourage this!
So, ready to say goodbye to your university dorm and hello to the real world? Turn your internship into a stellar career with these useful tips.
Stay Determined Every Day
An uplifting attitude and hard-working approach will impress any employer. If you plan to start determined on the first day, do the same thing every day after. Maintaining enthusiasm every time you sit down at your desk shows your manager that you aren’t one to let an opportunity pass you by.
As a fresh-faced intern, there are many situations you could find yourself in which challenge your confidence and work ethic. Let’s be honest, internships aren’t always recognised for their prestige. Perseverance will be your best guide and no matter how out of your comfort zone you feel, demonstrating excitement for new tasks is the perfect way to make an impression on your new colleagues.
Value Your Work and Life Balance
Attempting to manage the workflow of your first job is a tough gig. With pressure to perform at the top of your game in a foreign environment, even the best of us might be kept awake at night. But it is imperative you establish a healthy work and life balance. Not only will this be integral to the quality of your work, but also your health.
Interns need a break too. On occasion, you might be given a huge workload on a tight schedule and be expected to take it on with a smile, quickly. Make sure that you manage your time with a confident understanding of your limits. There’s a major difference between working at the office late once and doing this every afternoon. Try not to burn yourself out!
Always Take A Proactive Approach
Most people find taking the plunge to do something unfamiliar hard. You’re not alone. Start with small steps in the beginning by introducing yourself to new team members. Then, raise your hand when you recognise a problem. The big move? Offer a solution.
As a young professional, you can take control of the situation and decide your own approach. Keep in mind that, usually, any approach is better than doing nothing at all. It shows that you can work independently. If you aren’t quite ready to make a call just yet, consider enrolling in a community workshop or other short course in your area. Short courses will give you the chance to upskill, snowball your hands-on experience and ultimately, will benefit your internship.
Be Accountable For Success and Failure
When the going is good it’s easy to put your hand up and enjoy the praise. But what about when you make a mistake? Even when it feels like the end of the world, you need to shoulder responsibility for your errors, as well as your triumphs.
When you’re an intern, understanding the scope of your responsibilities can be hard. Of course, you work for the business. But you aren’t in a contract, so you won’t have the same authority as other employees. Most interns receive no payment for their efforts, but this doesn’t make your work any less valuable. In being accountable for every task, you can show your manager that you take your position seriously, as they should take you seriously, too.
Is This the Right Place For You to Be?
If the workplace culture at your internship makes you feel unmotivated or uncomfortable, this is the best way to find out. Not every ‘happy ending’ for an intern will be a job offer. Take away the positives from your experience and remember, you’re the one who applied and you have the power to walk away at any time.
With this in mind, don’t burn your bridges too fast. Usually, you will be able to leave with a great reference and a successful networking opportunity. There are always other internships out there to apply to. If, however, this is your dream job, then try asking for the position yourself. One word of interest from you could be the deciding factor to turn your internship into your career.
Caroline Schmidt writes the blogs for Kangan Institute. She is passionate TAFE courses, careers, and giving advice to students of all ages.