Internships are becoming increasingly necessary if you want to show a future employer your skills, qualities and ability to work in the real world. And there are two objectives you should have when entering an internship. The first one should be to try and bag a job and secondly, if that cannot happen for whatever reason, to walk away with a killer reference.
Whether you are in your first year of studying or have graduated you need to include internships into your career development plans. For this you need to understand what it will take for you to prove yourself to a future employer.
Do your research
If you want to secure a job via the internship route do your research and find out which employers, in your chosen sector, are known for hiring interns and how many they hire in any given year.
Inevitably, these kinds of internships are very popular and most applications must be submitted several months earlier, so start your research early. Find out as much as you can via their website or by calling the human resources department.
Choose the company well
Be selective about which companies you apply for. Apply to companies that you respect and admire. Ones that have a good internship programme and companies where you know you’ll get great opportunities. You will be more motivated and naturally perform at your best. Also bear in mind this doesn’t mean just applying for internships at large, well-known companies. Look at smaller companies and even start-ups!
Know your stuff
Treat your interview just like a job interview and tell them what you are capable of, what you know and the value you can add to their business. Yes, you are there to learn from professionals and industry experts but you can contribute by sharing your knowledge and opinions. This will single you out as someone who knows their stuff.
Show your commitment
Internships can be hard – not least because there maybe days when you don’t do very much or the work is a bit boring – but be consistent in your commitment and enthusiasm.
Never turn up late, don’t take days off, unless you really must, and offer to help wherever you can – even if that means going out for the coffees or doing the photocopying.
The best way to learn a new skill is to see someone else do it. This will help you learn new skills faster, which every employer loves.
Network, Network, Network
People choose to work with people they like, so get networking with people throughout the organisation. Join in with as many clubs, societies or initiatives as you can to get yourself noticed and make the effort to join colleagues going for drinks after work.
Avoid office politics and gossip
Unfortunately, every working environment has its office politics and as an intern you should avoid getting involved or partaking in gossip at all cost. By commenting on a situation or a person you could seriously jeopardise your chances of getting hired.
Make your wishes known
Heard of the saying “if you don’t ask you don’t get” well it couldn’t be more relevant in this situation. Ask how realistic it is to secure a job after the internship at the interview stage and keep subtly mentioning it. A few weeks before the end of your internship ask for a review and ask if you are still on track.