The idea of being an intern may not be the most glamourous, but sooner or later one thing will become very clear; your career path will have to start with an internship.
Don’t forget that internships are an important stepping stone to your future, so fret not, and follow these steps to success:
Remember; we’ve all been in the same intern boat
Most internships last for an initial period of around six months, and it can seem a long and arduous affair. Those above you burden you with their least favourite tasks, you may struggle to get the recognition you deserve, and your daily duties can become repetitive. Through all this, remind yourself of one simple fact; everyone who is anyone has started at the bottom. Take it all with a smile on your face and consider this; Ralph Lauren started as a shop clerk, trying (with little success) to gain recognition for his new tie designs; Steven Spielberg initially worked long hours as an unpaid intern at Universal Studios. There are a mountain of these celebrity stories but the real message is that we all start somewhere.
Make yourself indispensable
Interns come and go, but if you really want to stick around, you have to make your new team need you. Avoid being the intern that does the bare minimum – there’s always one! If you want to be taken on as an employee at the end of your internship, you have to make sure that your co-workers turn to you when they need something. Take on that extra chore that is not in your job description; come up with unprompted solutions (even if that solution is ‘we need to replace the coffee machine; let me organise it!’). Be the positive energy that gets things done and boosts the team. And even if you don’t want to continue working there after your internship, you will receive the most positive referral to get you where you want to go.
Get on with your colleagues
This is very much related to the last point. As an intern you will quickly learn the importance of work relationships as your career progresses. It is vital that you are not only easy to work with (which can cover up all nature of sins) but that you genuinely make an effort to add to the team. They should feel supported by you, but take care to avoid ‘one-upmanship’; no one appreciates the newbie intern taking credit for work or trying to get ahead instead of moving forward with them. Be humble in the face of experience; you will gain much more by learning from them than by going it alone.
Forget about the money
Your university years are over, but your dream job has not yet come along. You can neither depend on university aid nor a decent salary (if any at all) to tide you over so it is time to be wise with your money. Focus on working towards the salary you want through hard work and do not waste time complaining about your current penniless situation. Bear in mind that you are an investment and that what you earn in this short time will be much more valuable in the long run; experience.
Being an intern is the holy grail of learning so do not waste a moment of your time. Your more experienced colleagues will always have time to answer queries that show genuine interest in their work. The same goes for projects and challenges; be proactive about getting involved early on so that they think to involve you every time. Not only will you learn more ‘on the job’ but you will show your superiors your capacities. Don’t let anyone tell you to ‘keep your head down’. You never know when it will be your time to shine.
So there you have it. If you follow these snippets of wisdom the experience you gain as an intern, and the relationships you create will be worthwhile.
And who knows, with just a bit of effort in the right places, maybe you could find yourself soaring to great heights some day.
Start by finding great internships here.