Summer is here and so are internships. To students, internships offer an exciting experience to get exposed to a real-life work environment of which you can be a part. It is a chance to find out how much of what you are learning in your course can be applied to real work problems and how to channel your learning process in a way that it helps you become more employable in the future.
Image : iStock
Internships are also a hiring manager’s shortcut to identifying talented potential hires from a lot of future graduates. It is common for a well-performing intern to either land a job offer from the same company in the future or a glowing recommendation letter that would be a huge asset to their resume when they hunt for jobs. On the other hand, some employers even consider recruiting to be a primary function of internships. So internships do matter, and here’s how you can maximise your internship experience, make sure you stand out from the crowd and make it work in your favour:
It goes without saying that body language, and how you present yourself, is important in creating an impression about you to your supervisor and colleagues. But do not limit your efforts to looking good and behaving decently. Professionalism is the key word here. Come to work on time, show initiative to take on work and be organised in your work. These will help create a positive image right from the word go and might also help you land bigger responsibilities and more challenging tasks.
It is common for interns to do some of the most boring, monotonous and inconsequential tasks that no one else wants to waste their time on. Be ready to take on any task – be it small or big – with equal vigour and eagerness. Understand that no task is too small to be done. Completing such monotonous tasks with dedication will only help build trust and improve your equation with your supervisor. However, being proactive does not mean being relegated to the role of a door mat. Talk to your supervisor and be open with him about what interests you if you feel that your internship is not moving in a productive direction. Else, take the initiative and start off a project on your own, and convey your intentions to your supervisor. Your eagerness to learn will be appreciated by your seniors.
It is important that you do your primary research about the organisation before you start your internship. Even while you are at office, understand the structure and workflow of the organisation. Identify a few goals you are interested in accomplishing from the internship and communicate them with your supervisors. It is easier for this generation of interns as they are mostly being supervised by millenials who are more open and flexible than their predecessors. Let your senior know of your expectation from the programme and ask them for feedback. Use this feedback to hone your skills and perform better in the tasks you are assigned.
Internships offer a special window of access into companies and their working styles that you would have never imagined. So use this time to build connections that will help you in the future. Connect with your fellow interns as well as with your supervisors and co-workers. Not only will this help you skilfully complete your tasks, but it will also boost your professional development. You will be remembered more if you make an effort to personally interact with your co-workers. However, take care not to be too pushy or annoying as they are most likely too busy with their work. Offer help to co-workers when you can and hang out with them informally after work to strengthen the relationship. Internships are, thus, a fertile ground for making your first professional networks and leveraging it for future employment opportunities.
It always helps to be curious. Remember that your internship is an opportunity to learn on the field. Sometimes, you may find that the principles and theories that you learn at college may not be implemented in the real world. Make it a point to question this and understand why and how the organisation is doing things differently. You may not even get to meet your supervisor often during the course of the internship. But whenever you do meet them, have a set of questions ready. These questions should be thoughtful and should demonstrate the fact that you are prepared for the meeting.
By the time your internship comes to an end, you should have made some strong connections who would have good things to say about your work ethic and performance. However, it is important to make sure that their thoughts on you are articulated on the right platforms. Today, as potential employers look at your social networks while hiring, asking for a LinkedIn recommendation is a good way to start off. Thank your seniors and colleagues for the opportunity and try to find their preferred modes of communication to stay connected in the future.
Internships are the bridges that connect you to your future career prospects. This makes it important that you use your time as an intern in the most efficient way and make sure that your efforts are noticed by your supervisors. Make the most of your internship by picking up new skills and creating a strong professional network.