Internships offer valuable experience and exposure to real world employment situations. The opportunity to ‘try a career for size’ before committing for the long-haul is unique to the education experience, so it’s important to maximize what you take away from internship roles. Here Sarah Brooks, a Houston based freelance writer and blogger, shares her top five tips for making the most of your internship experience.
1. More than a CV entry
Working internships certainly serves to boost your resume, furnishing additional references for employers to consider before hiring you full time. But you are leaving knowledge and experience on the table if that is all you take away from the internships you complete. The opportunities are far more valuable than simply providing material for your resume, especially when you are able to engage in some of the same activities you’d be responsible for as a full-time staffer. To get the most from your internships, squeeze every second of authentic exposure from your time on the job, and take-on assigned tasks with enthusiasm.
2. Internships can lead to full-time employment
Each intern is unique, in terms of his or her goals and career aspirations, so takeaways are individual in nature. Often, however, internships provide useful preparation for full-time work. Just as you are evaluating career options as an intern, employers are assessing your skills and abilities for possible long-term employment. Even if your short-term internship doesn’t pay particularly well, it’s essential to put your best foot forward.
3. See the bigger picture
Many internships call upon interns to do jobs near the bottom of the workflow. Making copies, answering phones, filing and other administrative tasks are part of the internship experience in many office settings, but that doesn’t mean you are limited to learning only these tasks. Instead, stay aware of your surroundings and take note of how your employer does business. It is surprising how much this experience can round-out your understanding of a particular job or field, but only if you take it upon yourself to see the bigger picture beyond the more routine tasks assigned to you.
4. Protect your image
Even though there is more on the table than a positive employment reference, it is still important to protect your image as a hard-worker during your time on the job. When an internship does not pan-out as imagined, take care to preserve your positive, enthusiastic approach, so your temporary employer can say only good things about your service.
5. Embrace networking opportunities
Just because you are not “officially” employed during your time as an intern, does not mean networking is off-limits. You’ll meet plenty of people on the job, who are your new colleagues (in a way), so making a good impression pays dividends in the long-run. Ask questions to show you’re eager. When mentor relationships emerge during your internship, take advantage of the opportunities these offer. The perspective and exposure gained from these interactions are valuable learning resources, but they may also yield personal contacts, which may help advance your future.
In summary, to maximize the benefits, treat your internship like a regular job, exhibiting professionalism and enthusiasm at all costs. Though your specific work assignments may not always be particularly fulfilling, there’s a wealth of knowledge and experience to be gained, simply by showing up!
Author Biography: This is a guest post for LSE by Sarah Brooks from Freepeoplesearch.org. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.