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Insights from an Intern

How can you maximise the value of your internship or work experience?


One of the first things that pops into the minds of students or graduates is how many internships are enough? We look at it more like this. It’s not about the number of internships one undertakes but rather what you get out of it. You could do four and they could be more productive and insightful than doing 14. If you can walk away from a 1 month long or 5-month long internship saying that you feel more confident in yourself, as well as knowledgeable about a certain sector, that can be achieved in as many or little experience as possible.

Our blog today explores some tips to help educate you on what to take away from an internship.


Jump in with both feet

For many, internships can feel like trying to ride a rocket. Unlike university, where you have the freedom to learn at a more relaxed pace, internships can be full steam ahead. It takes a while to get used to as you find yourself thrust into a working environment with clear expectations from your orientation day.

However, opportunity is what you make of it. If you have a good attitude towards work, then it doesn't matter about what challenges come your way. The measure of an intern is how well they deal with the difficulties that will certainly arrive. No one gets excited about tasks like filling out spreadsheets or running to the corner shop for something urgent, but these all build character and discipline, and at the end of the day, somebody has to do them.


Nobody's perfect

Unless you are actually a robot, human error will catch up to you in the end. Good news… that’s 100% fine and not only that, but it is also to be expected. Now, we’re not saying to go out of your way to deliberately make things difficult for yourself or for others. However, everybody recognises that a twenty something year old is going to get things wrong from time to time and there’s little point beating yourself up about it.

In a peculiar way, you may end up even impressing your supervisor because even though you may end up making a few mistakes, this shows a willingness to put yourself out there. It’s better to muck in and make mistakes then sit on the side lines completely apathetic to the outcome of the work. Most important is to learn from the mistakes and try not to make the same ones again.


Make valuable contacts 

Over the course of time, you spend working as an intern, you will, hopefully, pool together a collection of colleague relations. Depending on which department you intern in, you may end up liaising with individuals from every walk of the company including HR, marketing and accounts.

This isn’t to say that forming friendships with the departments is a must, if anything it will only serve as a distraction, yet as time progresses you may end up having to carry a box of paper for the IT department’s printer or to conduct market research for the sales team.

Either way, these tasks present an ample chance for one to increase their connections on LinkedIn and potentially their lists of contacts long after your internship ends.


Learn from your superiors

Considering you are little more than a duckling compared to the birds of prey that occupy your work landscape, it is a good idea to look to your elders for support and guidance. Never underestimate the importance of shadowing someone ten to fifteen years your senior as their experience and advice can be critical to improving your work.

As much as you want to impress, it’s important to bear in mind that in this pond, you are the small fish. People know more than you and have achieved more than you and that commands respect. So, a bombastic attitude is a strict no-no. By being virtuous, respectful and humble you will inevitably win favour and earn your stripes.


Don't give up

So, you may feel somewhat a little deflated if your internship comes to an end without a job offer in sight. Understandable but it’s not the end of the world. By means of embracing your time as an intern, you have gone on to not only increase your employability but can also hold on to some crucial nuggets of information.

The experience of shadowing a department for upwards of a few weeks/months will inevitably prepare one for the world of work. You have demonstrated a good attitude to work as you have handled many difficult tasks with ease and the professionalism that is expected of you. As an intern, your days and workload may likely have been varied and you have got to grips with this. In the process of interning, you have learnt what it means to be an employee and have been moulded to jump in without fear of making mistakes or being labelled a failure.


For more information about internships as well as our apprenticeships and other employment services, please find them here.