Internships: The Good, the Bad, and How to Survive Them
The good things about internships are the experience the intern gains, the contacts he or she establishes and getting their “foot-in-the-door” of a company or career.
It is important to keep in mind that experience is not acquired through just showing up and being there. A lot of students get this wrong. They think internships are like an easy class where attendance is all that’s needed to pass. Instead, experience is gained through completing tasks, getting problems fixed, learning from mistakes and always having a “What else can I help you with?” attitude. This will give you a solid reputation of a dependable person who wants to learn and is not wasting time. And will get you noticed by your boss in a positive way.
Internships are the greatest thing someone though of one day when they needed help with their job but could not afford to pay anyone, so they though: “I’ll get an intern!” This pretty much sums up the bad-side of internships, most are unpaid and require the intern to follow orders and do all kinds of tasks for the person in charge. The work, most of the time, is not as fabulous as you might have thought. There is a lot of weird task that will make you question whether you will learn anything useful. The first lesson is: through understanding what is asked of you and doing it well, following orders per say, you are already learning. That being said, there are some awesome internships out there that are paid, some offer a scholarship or stipend at the end of the internship and some even offer living accommodations if they are in another city. It is very important to look for them, do your research, apply early, and apply to more than one.
So how can interns survive their internships?
- Be ready for anything. One of my friends had an internship in the US House of Representatives and he did everything from answering phone calls, to running errands around town, even attending a prestigious gala with foreign heads of state.
- Look sharp and like you belong there. Just because you’re the intern doesn’t mean you can’t dress up. Whether you are in an office, a lab, a hospital, or even out in the field, look professional by wearing a nice outfit and following the dress code. I o recommend however to have comfortable shoes because I’ve found that there is some running involved in the life of an intern.
- Write notes. Always show up with a notebook and a pen and write notes on what you’re learning. This can be your kind of internship journal where you can keep important things such as codes, addresses, phone numbers, the WIFI passwords, or even how your boss takes his/her coffee.
- Make friends. Nowadays, contacts are very important. Networking is essential so make sure you learn and make friends as well.
- Pay attention to detail. Doing a good job means going the extra mile. Understanding the importance of details is what will get you noticed because your boss will remember them and remember you.
Follow Maria at #AskMaria