For many college students and recent graduates, an internship is a near-requirement for future full-time employment. Because it is really important, you should know the ways to get the most from your internship.
How to Get the Most From Your Internship
1. Set goals and targets from the outset
Make sure you understand the job description before you start your internship. You should be going in with a clear understanding of what it is that you want to learn and experience during your time with the company. Relay these thoughts to your manager at the very beginning and come together to set some goals or targets for you to work towards during your time.
By having an aim to work towards and setting consistent tasks and challenges, preventing you from becoming underused and the experience wasted. Keep a documented record of your work and schedule regular catch-up sessions to monitor your progress and make sure you’re keeping on track!
2. Watch and learn
Understanding and acting in accordance with the culture of an organization is important whenever you start working somewhere new. Watch and seek guidance from your colleagues and peers. What are the routines of the organization? Of the people? Read all organizational material, policies, and procedures, etc. If it’s appropriate, ask to sit in on meetings or shadow other employees so you can learn the ins and outs of the business.
3. Build a relationship with your team
Alongside being proactive; building both professional and social relationships with your team can be an invaluable way of getting the most out of your internship. This means attending team bonding events, and getting involved in workplace activities. As the team gets to know you on a more personal level they are much more likely to include you in their projects whilst you’re there, connect with you on LinkedIn and remember you when you have gone.
4. Keep track of your projects
Start a list of all of the projects you have worked on so that you can discuss your progress with your supervisor. It will also help you remember everything you’ve worked on to update your resume, add to a portfolio, or talk about it in a future interview. Ask if you can keep examples of projects you have worked on for a portfolio. Remember that some of this information will be confidential, so always get approval before making any copies of work with you.
5. Own mistakes and fix them
During your internship, you may make mistakes, and that’s ok. Making mistakes is part of the learning curve. The key is to accept responsibility when things don’t go as planned. Taking ownership and articulating possible solutions will result in faster resolution and enable others to see you as a leader.
6. Seek out growth opportunities
Your first couple of days and weeks may include on-boarding sessions and training. Take advantage of any training time offered to ask questions and learn new skills. If there isn’t any formal training, find new sources of information on your own. This is a rare opportunity to understand how an organization works inside and out. To get the most from your internship, approach each hour of the working day with energy and curiosity.
7. Be open to feedback
Every so often, ask your manager how you’re performing. What are you doing well? What could you be doing differently? What could you do better? Are you meeting the goals of the organization? By asking these questions, you’ll make it easy for them to give you input that will help you grow.
Once you have received feedback, try to embed these new behaviors immediately so that your manager is able to see that you are open to feedback and willing to better yourself.
It is necessary to find a mentor who can give you advice, write recommendations, and help you make important connections. If you have a coworker who knows their way around, ask how they got to where they are and what advice they’d give you. These conversations are the start of a mentor-type relationship, which can be a powerful force throughout your career.
8. Build a positive outlook throughout
During your internship, you will be learning many new skills, navigating a new hierarchy, and stretching in all the ways that foster personal and professional growth. Each of these is likely to result in stress and self-doubt at one point or another.
To counteract that uncertainty, identify ways to build positive thinking. If you are journaling, document the highs as well as the lows. Practice gratitude by singling out the reasons behind the good outcomes. Be gentle with yourself when things don’t go as planned, and find meaningful ways to reward yourself for hard work done well.