Muneerah’s journalism career has allowed her to be very familiar with employment issues in Singapore. For more than three years, she covered stories on organized labor and employment for NTUC This Week and she also contributed to various magazines, such as Human Resources and Career Central, and other online platforms.
So the school vacations are here and you’ve scored yourself an internship. Your work wardrobe is ready and you’re eager to start your new journey to learn, develop skills and gain experience, but how do you make the best out of your internship? In most companies, interns come and go every year. Here are tips on how you can avoid being the intern nobody remembers after you leave.
Before you step into the office
It all starts even before your first day on the job. Familiarize yourself with the company and its products and/ or services. Learn as much as you can and do your research. You wouldn’t want to be utterly clueless on your first day there and the prior knowledge will help you set the context. Before you start your internship, talk to your employer about the skills and experience you hope to obtain during your time there. It would help them understand what you are aiming to achieve and how they can best help you in those aspects.
“I have to do what?!”
But of course, you don’t always get to do what you want and sometimes, it’s not about what you’re assigned to do; it’s about how well you do it. Sometimes you may be asked to do things that are rather dull and monotonous but you should do your best out of these mundane tasks, and then some. Compiling and updating a database for the mailing list may not be the most fun job in the world, but go the extra mile and search for those missing postal codes while you’re at it. If you can earn your manager’s trust by doing the boring tasks well, you can be sure that he/she will entrust you with more complex tasks in time.
Be independent and resourceful
Sure, you’re new to the job and the company’s internal system, but you cannot expect your colleagues to guide you at the drop of a hat when you need help. Sometimes they have matters that need their immediate attention before they can attend to your queries so you will have to learn from past samples or through trial and error. That’s not to say that you cannot ask for help, but there will be times when you may need to figure things out on your own. Being resourceful and the ability to think on your feet is a much sought after characteristic in almost any job.
Show initiative, volunteer and be helpful
Prove that you are always willing to learn even if you lack the knowledge and know-how. Initiative goes a long way and you’ll be surprised at the kind of opportunities that might come your way if you offer to help when you are able to. It can be something as simple as helping to answer a phone call if your colleague is away from the desk and taking down messages (if that is the company culture). Besides helping them, you might you never know who is on the other line and the contacts that could be made by simply answering a call, and we all know contacts matter a lot in the working world.
Suck it up
Internships are meant to be a training ground and even if there are times that it sucks being the intern, there is something to learn out of every situation and you can use them as examples in interviews with potential employers in future. So strap on your can-do attitude, have an open mind and positive attitude going into your internship.
While you are getting a taste of the working world through your internship, use the opportunity to learn about yourself; your strength and weakness, the type of employee you want to be and the type of career you want for yourself. Before your internship ends, get your supervisor and colleagues to share their feedback on your performance there and their comments on areas where you can improve on.
It is often said, one of the best things you can do for yourself, is to learn about yourself.