The long awaited phone call came in and your three-month internship starts next Monday. Congratulations. That is amazing news. An internship is an invaluable opportunity to get exposure to the workings of a potential employer and their industry of operation. Nonetheless, the thought of working in a new place can be daunting – new environment, new people, work that might be unfamiliar, the list goes on. These concerns are legitimate and could be addressed by attempting to answer the question: how do you survive the workplace as an intern?
Don’t worry. Employers understand that an intern might be new to the work force and so do the staff that will be working with you. Guidance for performing the most mundane of office tasks will be provided. If all the new information is too much to take in, it would greatly help to write down any tasks or instructions issued by a supervisor.
Establish a good professional relationship with your supervisor and coworkers. They will be responsible for teaching you the skills required to perform your duties, introducing you to your responsibilities at work, and mentoring you throughout the length of the internship. A positive report from the supervisor and coworkers on personal and professional conduct during the internship might lead to permanent employment at the end of the internship. It is therefore important to be on good terms with them.
Have realistic expectations. It would not be wise to assume that you will understand every process on the first day. This includes getting all the tasks issued by a supervisor right. Mistakes will be made, and learning will take place. Don’t beat yourself up too much if you fail at first. However, this is not a free pass to keep making mistakes without learning. Remember: an internship is a lengthy interview which might result in permanent employment at the end of the period. Perpetually making the same mistakes without learning from them may be interpreted as incompetence on your part. Which brings up the next issue.
Take the internship seriously. Nothing can ruin the chances of being offered an internship faster than a gross display of lack of seriousness with daily duties. Respect your work no matter how mundane it may feel compared to what the rest of the office is doing. The best sign that you would be a great addition to the team after the internship is how seriously you take your work and your attitude towards it. Show up to work on time, always dress professionally, and be respectful toward your peers.
Ask the right questions. When starting out, a lot of new duties will be delegated your way. It is important to ask questions and reach out when in doubt or unsure on what to do. Questions are not necessarily be limited to assigned duties. An internship is a learning experience. Do not let the fear of looking stupid stop you from asking a question.
Be pro-active. Be on the lookout for opportunities to learn as much about the organization as possible. Express interest in learning about the different departments of the organization with the supervisor. Find out if it is possible to go on rotation to other departments during the slow days at work. If done with the assigned duties of the day, ask the supervisor if there that needs doing in the office that you have a capacity to handle. Being pro-active demonstrates initiative and drive in the workplace. Take the time to find out which skills are particularly coveted within the organization and strive to attain these skills to make yourself invaluable to the organization.
Leave a lasting impression. Internships only last a few months. As a result, many interns may go through an organization in the span of a year. Leaving a good, lasting impression will improve chances of employment at the end of an internship. Doing your job well and creating meaningful connections with your coworkers will leave a positive lasting impression.
Do not be afraid to make mistakes. An internship is a learning experience. Mistakes will be made and your employer expects there to be some along the way. So relax, do not let the fear of making a mistake paralyze you into inaction.