With many of you having just started your first internship or formal work experience, or about to, we thought it would be useful to share our top 10 tips for making the most of this experience and ways to make sure that you are remembered for all the right reasons.
1. Set yourself some goals
Whether it’s learning some new skills, finding out about a particular area or building your network, this will help you get the most out of your experience.
2. Be professional at all times
Dress code, being punctual, being timely with breaks, not drinking too much at networking drinks, not giving too much away about the weekend in the Monday morning office banter…Professionalism also extends to the use of social media, something a number of recruiters have highlighted recently – interns being indiscreet and unprofessional about colleagues or the organisation on platforms like Twitter or Facebook. This is a sure fire way to not be invited back or offered a graduate role.
3. Be enthusiastic and have a positive attitude
It may sound obvious but some recruiters tell us that interns behave as if tasks are ‘beneath them’. You may well be tasked with some routine or administrative tasks to do. They are part of every job. It’s about how you react to these tasks that’s important. Show flexibility, a strong work ethic and ‘can do attitude’. It will be noticed.
4. Use your initiative
Interns who get the most out of their experience are those that go out of their way to offer to help out colleagues, ask for additional things to do and push themselves. Again this will be noticed.
5. Avoid negative behaviour
This includes moaning, complaining, and generally being rude. Treat your internship like an extended interview. Don’t be arrogant and treat everyone from the person at reception to the Managing Director with equal respect.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
No-one can be expected to know everything! Far from showing you in a negative light or as less able, asking sensible questions and seeking clarity shows a commitment to learning and getting things right. This could be something as simple as checking the preferred format for a report, but small details like this will really help you stand out.
7. Take every opportunity to learn
Get to know the sector and company. Meetings and social events are great for finding out more so do accept any invitations to attend. Ask for feedback and show you’re keen to improve.
8. Be a team player
Remember that if you’re taken on as a graduate you’re likely to be working with some of the same people. Connect with other interns and colleagues. Remember employers are more impressed when you all work together as colleagues rather than treat each other as competition.
9. Record your achievements
Making a note of these, and quantifying where possible, will be a useful memory aid/tool for any future applications and interviews.
In addition to your own achievements, make sure you note down things you liked about the organisation and its processes so you can refer back to them when preparing for the interview. If you’ve had an internship with a company and are interviewing for a graduate role, the interviewers will expect more insight from you as you’ve already worked with them.
10. Build your network
Your internship really is your chance to build relationships with people at all levels. Even if the internship itself doesn’t work out particularly well, you may well be meeting people that you cross paths with at other points in your career.
And the top tips don’t stop there when your internship finishes and university looms.
At the end of your internship, remember to:
- thank everyone that you worked with
- maintain your connections and stay in touch with key people through LinkedIn, regular emails, lunch or coffee
- update your CV with your accomplishments
We hope you’re having an interesting and productive summer!