As you sit (or stand) there by the Xerox printer at 5pm waiting for the final documents of your supervisor’s report –that so happens to be due on her desk tomorrow morning at, counting down the minutes before you bolt out the door. You hear that dreading beeping telling you that there is an error with the machine. You quickly start maniacally pressing every single button available whilst scanning across the room looking for someone who you think will be willing to help out but to no avail. As the feeling of helplessness and frustration begins to kick in, you think to yourself are internships really worth all that it’s hyped up to be?
If the above scenario seems a little too real for you then I hope you find comfort in knowing that we’ve all ( or most of us anyways) have been there and it’s probably a rite of passage one must go through before entering the working world. Internships, especially specialised internship programmes, are growing in popularity these days both in the number of companies offering them and the number of people applying for such positions.
Internships are a great way for an organisation to not only recruit great talent even before they graduate but also a great way to keep a steady pulse on the changing needs of their future workforce. Then you might be thinking
There are many benefits to doing an internship ( though we cannot deny there are some downsides but) the upsides are:
· you get to have a test run of what the working world is really like before diving head first
· you get to gain valuable insights and knowledge you’d probably not get anywhere else, and
· lastly if you are outstanding it will most likely guarantee you a job once you graduate/ finish your internship.
Therefore for you to get to that end goal of securing that job here are a few things to keep in mind to stand out while interning.
ALWAYS ACT PROFESSIONAL
You might be thinking
However, being professional goes so much further than how you dress and how you do your work. It also includes the way you speak with other people and how you carry yourself in the work setting. The degree as to how ‘professional’ you should act are also subjective to the organisation, therefore the best way to know what level of professionalism you should adhere to is to observe those who are already in the organisation. How people act are a good indicator as to the company culture and how you should act as well.
GET TO KNOW YOUR BOSS
Every boss is unique and has different working styles. Sometimes we interns may get stuck with a really sucky boss/ superior but that is not to say that there is no good thing that can come out of it. Know his/her working styles, what he likes or dislikes and what is his values both as an individual and as a professional.
This is not to say that you spend all your time with your boss nor this is to say that you’re always there with a cup of coffee in the morning when he enters the office – unless you’re absolutely sure that is what he needs to start the day, because really that’ll only make you look like a kiss ass to the other people in the office. Observe from the way he presents his ideas to others, observe how other people behave around him and from there it would give you a good guestimation on who he/she is as an individual and how to anticipate what he requires of you before even asking for it.
BE THERE TO LEARN
Interning is your best chance to learn all you can and absorb everything like a sponge, try your very best to get into projects that’ll give you the best opportunity to learn something new. Try your very best to say yes to projects that you have no experience in because chances are everything they throw at you is going to be something new. Say yes and figure it out along the way.
A word of caution though, don’t say that you know how to do something when you clearly don’t, say you are willing to learn and would need some guidance in the area because that way that would set a manageable expectation for the person giving you the task. Do your research on the task and ask questions should you be unsure about anything. The best way is to either ask other interns first or ask those in the organisation whom you can trust to validate that what you’re asking isn’t some trivial question that may trigger the person giving you the task.
Being young and well educated can sometimes lead us to thinking that you probably can do a better job that so and so but the likelihood of you knowing more on how things are run and what should be done at the organisation are probably really low. That is not to say that you aren’t an outstanding individual and can probably do a great job but sometimes it is good humble ourselves to just living the experience and learning how to play nice with others.
If you feel that you could add value and help things run a little more efficiently than by all means I do suggest you voice your opinion but keep in mind the way you phrase your sentence or question can make all the difference between people (or worse your boss) thinking you’re a know-it-all snob versus a genuinely curious pro-active intern trying to make the workspace a better place.
And if all else fails I suppose you can always continue studying! So don't sweat the small stuff, stay focused and just do your best!