Many of you will have been fortunate enough to have secured summer internships or work placements to start this year. Those 8-10 weeks that you spend at the firm could go a long way to defining the start of your life post-university. The aim should be to learn as much as possible within at short space of time and show the hunger to convince your managers to push for you to be offered a full time position. With the job market becoming increasingly competitive by the minute, having an internship is always a good experience to have sitting on your CV even if you decide not to accept the offer. I will share with you my top tips to make your experience a successful and rewarding one.
Apply for internships that you would have an interest in doing the role full time – primarily focus on these applications, making sure you tailor your cv and cover letter specifically to the role. You want to avoid showing a lack of interest or feel like the experience was a waste of time. For your own personal development this is beneficial as you would be more motivated to improve on your development points in a role that you enjoy doing and you know a job offer is potentially at stake.
Internship goals – set 5 goals that you want to achieve by the end of the internship, then week by week appraise yourself and see what you are doing well and what could be done better. Self motivation will ensure you stay grounded and will give you e determination to continue improving
What will I be doing – ask for a detailed job description of the role that describes what is required of you. This will help you track your progress as being able to do the tasks efficiently and to a very high standard will set you on your way to a job offer. Speak to your manager or colleagues within your team about training schedules and setting weekly objectives. This will demonstrate your eagerness to learn and motivation to succeed.
First impressions matter – on your first day it’s better to be overdressed. Although a firms dress policy may be smart casual, there are always areas within the firm which adopt more formal dress codes. Observe how your team members dress and base your judgement as to how to dress going forward on this. If you are still confused ask a colleague (preferably a junior one) what the expectations are.
Make sure you are not late unless there is an exceptional reason to be, especially early on. You don’t want that to give off the wrong impression of your character or attitude.
Demonstrate an ability to exceed what is expected of a ‘normal’ intern. Probe, ask as many questions, ask for more responsibility (if you can handle the extra workload). You want to be seen as an employee so they feel your loss at the end of your internship. You want to show you are more than competent enough to perform the role and the best way to show this is to show you are a quick learner and can perform tasks independently. You will only be given tasks to do by yourself if you prove you can be relied on by the team.
Mentor – use your mentor if you are given one effectively. They are there to give you a different perspective to the one your colleagues would provide. You can also tap into their network of contacts and build up your profile within the company. If not provided with one, ask someone that you feel you have a connection with to be your mentor – most of the time they will be happy to help. You can also use your mentor to ask questions you may not feel comfortable asking your manager or fellow team members.
Network – sometimes the difference between two interns on the same level in terms of the quality of work and the value they add to the company is the strength of their network. Sometimes it’s not what you know but who you know. You want to have as many people as you can fighting your corner when it comes to hiring. Using the networking tips I shared in my earlier post will stand you in good stead to networking effectively.
Great interns are the ones that get offers and good ones don’t.