6 Important Internship Tips!
Internships are a great way for students and many other people to jump into an industry with basic knowledge, and get their foot into the door. If you are switching careers, or just entering the work force, an internship may be the right choice to kick start your career!
The follwing tips will help almost anyone suceed in an internship by learning the job, making connections, and staying safe. Remember that the most important part of an internship is advancing your knowledge and skill set by accomplishing tasks and taking on appropriate levels of responsibility.
Actually do the job.
This starts with only applying to internships you’re actually interested in and can learn something from. From there, you will be expected to take on tasks that might be repetitive or not always glamorous. If you want to learn something while you’re there, it is in your best interest to do the jobs you are assigned and then ask for more that align better with your interests. After growing a reputation of getting things done, it is likely you’ll be able to start asking for more types of work you’re interested in exploring, beyond your regular tasks. Getting work done, and done well, will also help create positivie relationships with your supervisor and coworkers that could lead to future job opportunities. Reliability is key!
Every internship supervisor is different, find the best ways to work with yours.
Some internship supervisors know how to work with interns, others don’t, and it makes a huge difference. The best thing you can do to make your program more smooth is to find the best ways to work with them. If they don’t assign a lot of tasks, leaving you with nothing to work on, try finding other employees you can offer to assist. Some supervisors might give too many tasks. If this is the case, calmly explain your limited time, and ask them what the priorities are. By having them work with you on this choice, you can reduce the potential for conflict later.
Watch out during internship interviews, some supervisors know they can take advantage of interns and unfairly reprimand them, if you feel like a potential program might put you in this position, don’t accept – the experience won’t be worth the stress, especially if they don’t give you a recommendation letter because you didn’t meet impossible standards. The interview is just as much an interview of them and their program for you to conduct, as it is their interview of you!
Say no to situations that are uncomfortable, dangerous, or abusive.
Don’t do things you are uncomfortable with. if you don’t have the proper skills or training, talk with your superivsor to see if they can be taught to you, and if not, explain that you can’t complete the task. It is not wrong to say “no” to situations that could potentially be dangerous for you or company property. Most Internship supervisors will be happy to teach an intern the right way to complete an assignment, so don’t be afraid to ask!
When I was an intern, someone asked me to drive the production van (which was HUGE) through the middle of Los Angeles traffic to pick up an equipment rental. Not to mention this vehicle and it’s contents was worth North of $300,000 dollars. I hadn’t ever driven a vehical that large, and was new to LA traffic, and, what the person who asked didn’t know, I wasn’t covered by their company insurance, and wouldn’t be covered by my own. I calmly explained the issue to my supervisor and an actual employee went on the run, without any issue. When you have a good supervisor, talking through discomfort is a lot easier – The important thing is to say no when you are uncomfortable.
As discussed above, there are some bad supervisors out there – and positions of leadership often attract these people. Never put an internship, or the hope of experience ahead of your safety. And if things are really bad, quit the internship. If you are doing it for college credit, report safety issues to the school so that they can warn future students.
Be On Time.
One of the most important things with any job, including internships, is being on time. It shows that you are prepared, engaged with the work, and eager to take opportunities. By being reliable, you will be asked to take on more responsibilities which will in-turn make the education aspect of your internship more successful. There is also some correlation with even small types of reliability like being on time, and increased chances of being hired by that organization in the future. Being on time is a matter of repect for those around you, and a great way to make a good impression!
Your goal while being an intern is to trade your time and work for knowledge and experience. Ask questions to further your understanding, and ask for more responsibility so that you can try as many different pieces of the business’ workflow as possible. If you are asked to do something you don’t already know, ask for help and guidance. Even if it is just how to use the copier, every skill you can acquire will make your internship more valuable to you. In most cases the supervisor will be happy to help, at very least so that they know it will be done correctly and that they can trust you with the task in the future – bringing about more responsibility and opportunites to make a good impression.
By asking questions, you take charge of your educational experience and can shape it more to be what you specifically are looking for to move towards your goals!
If you can be a positive force within the work environment, your opportunities will grow, as will the overall culture of the workplace. Everyone likes to work with people who are nice, kind, and genuine people, and your coworkers will be no different. A can-do, friendly attitude will also help you form meaningful connections with those around you, which increases chances of being hired after your internship, or working with your connections down the road. Never underestimate the power of being nice!
Keep in mind, this is a general guide and every industry is different. Also, not every internship will hire interns after the program ends.
Internships, if programmed correctly, are a great way to try new positions, and get your foot in the door. Watch out for the bad eggs, look for red flags, and find unique opportunities that will help you grow in the ways you want to.
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