Careers Advice Blog

How to make the most of your internship

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Finding advice on the internet is like looking for hay in a haystack. It’s everywhere – and not all of it is relevant. We’ve narrowed down our best four tips for the post-application stage of a placement, when you’re actually about to start the job.

1. Be confident in your ability to contribute

In almost all cases in which placements are offered, more than one candidate is considered. If you had to go through an interview, or even an application process to be given your internship, there is a reason they picked you. Be proud of this – let it give you the confidence you need to make your first introductions, and to answer honestly when they ask you for your opinion. Even if that opinion is that you’re not sure.

2. Be honest

If you have an opinion on something, especially if it’s a constructive criticism, say it. If you’re interested in hearing more about a certain project, or you’re really not enjoying a particular task, say. The best way to get what you want out of anything in life is to ask for it: during my time at the British Red Cross I completely re-wrote parts of my job requirement to suit my interests, and this flexibility is common in placements. Ultimately, someone has to open the letters, but there should always be more meat to the bone than that – and if you get to pick the better tasks, those letters are going to be much easier to stomach.

3. Be curious

Ask the people you work with how they got into the sector, and ask them what their targets for the year are and have a genuine interest in their answer. Not only will this help you settle into the team in the short space of time that you have, but it will improve your sector knowledge and confidence in talking about similar issues in future. Realistically, if the only thing you know about the company after your time there is the location of the toilets and how they run their spreadsheets, you should be re-evaluating how you spent your time.

4. Be willing to talk about yourself

If people ask you what’s next in your career, tell them – even if you’re still working it out. If people ask you what you like to do in your spare time, tell them. You are a well-rounded person and you should show this off. Not only will this give an extra edge to your reference: if they know what you want said about you, they’re far more likely to say it.

Ultimately, however, the best advice is to be yourself and to take the internship one day at a time. You should take it seriously, without seeing it as the be-all and end-all of your career, and take the positive things from it that you can. You earned this placement; enjoy it.

Do you have any more tips on how to make the most of your internship? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo: normalityrelief / Flickr

Andrew E. KingHow to make the most of your internship

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