Each year thousands of ambitious college students and recent graduates or post graduates embark on a wonderful journey in which they’ll gain invaluable experience, learn life lessons and make lifelong friends. This internship experience is much more than just learning the tricks of the trade or getting some on-the-job experience. It is as much about the work or technical aspects as it is about the softer aspects. Not only will each intern get their foot in the door of the corporate world – but they’ll also have the opportunity to hone their skills, build their resumes, network with other professionals, and increase their chances of landing a full-time position in the same organization or others that they aspire to be a part of.
Many moons ago, I was employed as an intern in a large accounting company. The feelings I have about that experience now, are very different from the ones I was going through at that time. I have a tendency to exaggerate and magnify everything that I am going through and really make it larger than it is while I am going through it, so looking back at it now has the advantage of being reflective with the most neutral stance, fond memories and great insights. I would like to share it here, especially for students who are about to start their internship.
- I did my homework before starting the project: I researched on the company, on my guide and on the project topic itself. This really helped me settle in fast, given the fact that I had no prior work experience and it was important to get great credits for my course requirements as well. I would strongly recommend this.
- I dressed and behaved professionally: you must have heard that first impression is the last impression. This is especially true at the workspace. People look at your clothes and attitude and assess a lot about you. I never took these two for granted. I wore formal clothes, was punctual and professional always.
- I treated it like a real job. There were other interns around me who took long coffee breaks, reached office late and asked for many leaves. I knew that this was a recipe for failure. I never behaved as if this was just a limited time project but rather as if it is a real job. This really impressed my bosses and helped my work tremendously.
- I asked for feedback: I was open to learning, asking questions and most importantly asking for feedback. I accepted what was told to me with an open mind and this does not mean that I agreed to everything but that I was willing to incorporate the relevant suggestions.
- Networking: Well, this is a double edged sword. If you overdo it then this can massively backfire but in right quantities it not only helps during the project but during the rest of your career. A lot of my contacts, friends and mentors that I met during the internship are still in touch with me and help me whenever there is an opportunity!
My internship experience was a mixed bag but I would not trade it for anything else. I had the time of my life and some wonderful memories. My two cents to all of you who are about to start it is to be serious while you have a good time. The internship may be the start of a long-standing career in the industry so it’s important to use this opportunity as a way to start developing yourself as a professional who delivers quality work with a great attitude. In turn this could lead to recommendations, lasting business relationships, and a full-time job.