How important is it really to do an internship before a job? Do you actually need the hands-on experience or is it really a matter of just landing the right job? Well, internships are a proven way to gain the knowledge, skills and experience required to establish the right connection in the field. It is a great way to make your feet wet and find out if a specific career field is something you could see yourself doing as a full-time job.
Do I really benefit from internships? If that is what you are thinking right now, let me tell you that, yes, you actually do. Internships are a great way to learn the ropes. So even if you find yourself making coffee, as long as you’re learning about the field, take advantage of every opportunity. The experiences make you more competitive in the job market. Internships – paid or unpaid, can propel you into a rewarding career or ruin one even before it starts. So think it as the last opportunity for real-world work experience before entering the real world of work.
As you show off the skills that you have learned in the classroom or represent your university to the company that has courteously offered you a job for a brief period of time, you have plenty of opportunities to succeed. But to ensure you have an amazing experience, it is better to review the following lists of DOs and DONTs to kick off your career as an intern.
Do dress well
Dress for the job you want and not for the job you have. It is high time you should start learning about the importance of professional wardrobe. The way you dress plays into the way you are perceived in the workplace. Get out of the jeans and sneakers habit and dress for the success you’re working towards. If your office environment demands button up shirts and trousers, add a tie to your wardrobe. For women, you can add a blazer to match the top.
Do know your place, look, listen and learn
Help your co-workers see you as a part of their team. The more you can be trusted to take initiatives and complete all your assignments on time, no matter how mundane or small, the more respect you command. Observe the processes, systems and politics of the company. Do ask questions not only about the work but also about your colleagues. This is the best way to learn about your company’s culture and your co-workers and set the stage for a mentor and mentee relationship even after your internship has ended.
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Most importantly, maintain a cordial relationship with your co-workers and supervisor and stay in touch with them even after you have left the job.
Do bring new ideas
As an intern, you are expected to bring in fresh perspectives and ideas. Never hold back in brainstorming with your team or proposing something new to the table. If you have something to offer, chime in during a meeting. Let your boss and your co-workers notice your engagement and your dedication for the organization’s overall success. You are not expected to know everything, but I am sure you have something valuable to offer the company.
Do set goals
Setting goals is an important aspect of your life. Not only does setting goals allow you to measure your career progress, but they also serve as an outline for what you have to accomplish each and every day. It is important to know what your supervisor expects of you. If possible, request a meeting with your boss within the first two weeks to learn expectations and also to get to know each other. When you make your supervisor aware of your goals, they can help you with relevant projects and assignments to reach the benchmark you have set up for yourself.
Don’t make social media your best co-worker
Stay away from social media sites, unless they are a part of your job requirements. Soak up as much as you can from your internship by asking for more tasks and projects, especially when you are free. Utilize your down time by talking to your colleagues instead of scrolling through Facebook or Twitter. Keep your status checks, updates and selfies to non-work hours. The golden rule is – ask: ‘Is there anything else I can help you with’? It puts forth a good impression when you seem eager to work and ready to take on new challenges.
Don’t forget to check emails, spellings and grammar before sending any document
These are classic intern mistakes. Remember, any work that you send to your supervisor or co-workers should be extremely professional. It is crucial to check the grammatical and sentence construction errors before you send the assigned work to your boss. Most importantly, save your work. You will not believe how many times interns usually lose their documents as they forget to save the work regularly.
Don’t violate office boundaries
It is essential to remember that you are an intern and your eventual goal is to learn and offer as much value as possible. If your workplace guidelines direct you not to use any personal gadget within the working hours, do obey the rule, instead of putting headphones in at work. It is an unprofessional attitude.
Don’t be a pessimist
There will be downtime. Don’t get frustrated or put it to waste. Find out ways to grow independently. Ask your colleagues what newsletters they subscribe to or which sites they frequently visit; spend time checking slide shares. At times you may also find some long days, people will drive you crazy. You are expected to be patient and positive. Remember, everyone you are working with has been in your shoes and they survived.
This is truly an on-the- job training. Initially, you may not see any difference in yourself, but I am sure you will leave wiser, more mature, confident and a better candidate for your next full-time job.