Internships are a great way to understand yourself and to explore the your career options. Make good use of your internship to get real-world experience and to enhance your your network and more. having a stellar internship or two on your resume can put you ahead of the pack when it comes to finding a job after university.
So you have completed your education and graduated from college or university, now what? Once you are no longer a student, you have to start your journey to the real world by sending out your resumes to various companies. Unfortunately, after waiting for days and even weeks, you have not landed any job as expected. You have already taken rounds of tests and attended various interview sessions, but it seems that luck is yet to be on your side.
This might not be something new that the entry-level job market can be tough to beat, especially for fresh graduates. Oftentimes, employers prefer candidates who have prior experience and knowledge in the industry, thus making it more difficult for raw talents like you to get their first full-time jobs. At this point, you might think, ‘How can I gain experiences if I do not get a chance to work first?’ Well, actually there is a way: internship.
Maybe you are thinking, ‘Is it still appropriate for me to do an internship? Isn’t it usually only for students?’ The answer is, it is not necessarily so. Even long after you have graduated, you can sign up for internship programs offered by many company. Not only the best way to gain work experiences and beef up your portfolios, doing an internship will give you a better shot in getting hired later. Still not sure? Here are some good reasons why you should consider becoming an intern:
Gain skills and experience
Having a degree from prestige educational institution will not help much when it comes to getting a job. But experience is. Therefore, you should take an internship where you can put the theories you learn from school into practice and gain real experiences. As an intern, you will get the opportunity to observe how various roles in an organisation work while learning from experienced mentors. Not only that, you do need not be afraid to try out new things and make mistakes, because internship is the right time to practice the trial and error method.
Explore various career options
Unlike a full-time job, an internship typically has a limited time span which usually revolves within a matter of months. This gives you a good chance to explore various career options and learn more from different industries. For example, for three months you can be an intern in an advertising company, then the next three months in consulting firm. This way, you will know the difference between each industry and how each job role functions.
Figure out what you really want to do
Despite having graduated and holding a degree in a certain major, some people are still unsure of what they really want to do for a living. If this happens to you too, then an internship can help you to make the best decision. By trying out several different roles, you can compare the good and bad sides of certain job to then find the one that works best for you.
Transition to the professional world easier
The real world is very different from college life. In the workforce, you are required to be a professional adult who is responsible for performing a task for the company and client. From internship, you can learn both soft and hard skills to do this task well. For example, you can learn public speaking while building confidence.
Get your foot in the door
Internship is a great stepping stone that will help you get your foot in the door before finally really landing your dream job. By becoming an intern, you can build a network, something that will increase your chances of getting employed in the future.
Are you thinking of switching career? Do you plan to re-navigate your career path and choose whole new and different profession from your current job? Watch your steps! If you are not careful enough, your next job moves might hurt your established personal brand today.
If there’s anything you need to pay attention to, during a job search is your personal brand. Whether you consciously build it or not, each person carries their own brand. A personal brand is something that will tell who you are and what you do. That being said, a brand does matter because it reflects your persona.
And if you are unable to demonstrate strong and appealing brand value, it might cost you an opportunity to land your dream job. Needless to say, developing a positive individual brand is imperative for everyone who wants to establish their position and enhance their bargaining power in the industry.
The problem, however, lies in the fact that building personal brand can be difficult to maintain. Given that building a personal brand is not something that you can do overnight, it can be difficult to change once it is established. Therefore, it becomes crucial for you to identify whether or not your current brand aligns with your career goals and values.
Sometimes, despite your best intentions, your job moves end up making your personal brand fall apart and lead you to nowhere when you are not vigilant enough. Learn from the following job moves that can hurt your personal brand to avoid making such grave mistakes:
Take a look at the job history on your resume. Have you always been walking on the same career path over years? Or have you been job-hopping from one company to another within short span of time? Be careful. Inconsistency will kill your personal brand.
Your future employers want to know who you are by looking at your track record, such that they know what to expect from you. If you show some inconsistent moves and behaviours, this will kill your job opportunity.
Stuck in the same position
While severe inconsistency will harm your brand, being stuck in the same position for years is not good for you as well. At some point on your professional journey, you need to step out of your comfort zone and move on. By exploring other opportunities in the industry, you will demonstrate that you are not afraid of challenges and always ready for better change.
Being too reckless
Think of the consequences before you take any actions. Make sure that before making any decisions that put your career at stake, you have taken everything into account.
You should bear on mind that being too reckless in making job moves will only undermine your personal brand. Therefore, you need to be thoughtful in choosing your words, initiating actions, and noticing the impact they bring.
Getting distracted easily will weaken the power of your personal brand. Rather than doing many things at once, it will be wiser to stand for one thing and focus yourself on it. You need to represent yourself as a determined individual who knows exactly what he is doing.
However, while you need to focus on one thing, you should never be close minded. Instead of limiting your horizon, you need to always open up to new opportunities and achieve personal growth.
It is important for students to realize the importance of internship, as this program is not merely about showing your face and listing your name in a company’s internship record.
Most of the employers now prefer to hire those who have relevant work experiences rather than those who don’t, as they are considered to have a higher dedication and comprehension to their job fields.
However, some students regularly forget that they are no longer students in the office waiting to be mentored during the internship. They are expected to show effort in their work with a positive attitude.
It is important to perform your best during the internship program and avoid making these 8 common mistakes as follow:
Your First Day
It’s your first day at work, and your superior is taking you on a company tour. Do not let it become a useless ritual! Utilize this great beginning to ask questions, especially things related to your job field and how you can help during your stay.
Meetings happen almost every single day, but do you know what to do? Everybody is busy preparing for the meeting and it is not okay for you to just wait at your desk, isn’t it? As an internship student, be proactive and enthusiastic, ask about how you can help.
To have a good relationship with the top seniors and managers is awesome, as it enhances the chances in being offered a job in future after your graduation. However, horizontal networkings (junior staffs and co-workers) are also valuable, as they can give you great advice, career support and relevant references.
Getting frustrated and bored
Not all companies are well-prepared enough to welcome internship students. They just open up the gate and let the students do what they need to do, without a structural job description and detailed run down activities. Instead of feeling bored and frustrated, it is good to be actively observant and find out how your effort and skills can contribute to the company.
Your boss won’t let you run until you can walk. Small tasks, even if those don’t relate to your skills and potencies, are tests. When you did an exceptional job at it, your managers will let you handle bigger projects, and this is what you should be working towards! Be enthusiastic and don’t underestimate every single small task you receive, as this will lead to a better impression to the company.
Company’s formal emails are much more different with those you send to your parents and best friends. Simple issues like headings, greetings and formal signatures could be disastrous if you are dealing with business matters, especially customers. Therefore, don’t be hurry-scurry to click the send icon, ask your supervisors to proofread the draft (if needed) and do proper revision! Always double-check!
What you wear to work is as critical as your skill performance. Before starting your internship, observe what the others are wearing to work. If you have an internship at a startup company, it is possible that you could be just donning on casual wear. However, corporate companies commonly demand formal dress codes for the people. If it is necessary, go and pick some new formal shirts and pants/skirts!
When the program is over, don’t forget to send personal thank you notes or emails to the company’s supervisors, managers and employees whom you have worked with. The internship might be over but don’t let it ruin your good relationship with the people!
Internship is a great opportunity for every student. Be ready for the program and avoid these 8 common mistakes to gain the best and show your most impressive performance in the company!
Are you currently on internship? Chances are, you want to be an outstanding intern. You should not be really slacking off in the office, because internship is the golden opportunity for you to gain plenty of working experiences.
If you can perform well during the internship, the company might just offer to hire you to be their full time employee in the near future! It depends on the your qualities and capabilities. Basically, every company has a certain set of expectations for each intern.
However, generally, there are essential qualities that companies expect from an intern. Those qualities are:
Do you really see the internship as a fantastic opportunity to work in a great company? If so, make sure that everyone else in the office feel your genuine enthusiasm. People at work will appreciate that, since you will be contributing more than they are expected.
We always see many interns confused about everything in the office. Don’t be. There are ways to be better than that by taking initiatives. When an intern takes initiatives, the boss and/or supervisor will find them helpful. Thus, try to deliver what your boss needs, even before he or she asks!
The company might present confidential information to their interns. Thus, any company would appreciate an intern who has high integrity and can be trusted, since being an insider means they should not be talking to outsiders regarding the company’s crucial information.
Of course, no company would be happy if one of their former interns can’t keep insider information safe.
Yes, an intern is someone new. Not to mention that most of them are inexperienced. But, there is no need to feel inferior, because it won’t get you far. As mentioned before, internships are about gaining experiences, fresh from the practitioners. Do not waste your time by feeling little about yourself!
Moreover, do not be afraid to ask questions. It is better to avoid mistakes by asking questions in advance. Hence, you can ask a lot of questions as long as it is appropriate. Everyone in the office understands that an intern is inexperience and would require advice from time to time.
5. Listen, observe and learn
Being an intern means you should be a good listener and observant at the same time. The key is to be quick to listen. Plus, take note of everything you learn from the workplace. You should spend your time to listen good advices from your peers and superiors. Luckily, you can learn a lot from them. From their working style, habits, to the way they handle different situations. Those are priceless things you can get during your internship.
Rarely have I heard of anyone going for an internship without any complaints. Despite all the complaints, they still have to go through it. Why not make the most out of this opportunity?
An internship is more than just for beautifying your resume. It is a learning opportunity. For an internship to be purposeful and fulfilling, it all begins with you.
Here’s how you can make the most out of your internships.
Ask questions.As an intern, you aren’t expected to know everything. It is fine to ask questions when in doubt, which is better than making a mistake at the end.
Have a positive attitude.Be it doing mundane tasks like photocopying, filing or perhaps even being an office boy, complete them with a positive attitude. Give your 100% in all the tasks you are handed.
Learn as much as you can.Seize every opportunity to learn. Don’t belittle small tasks, there are still learning points from them. Even from making coffee, you may just learn more about your innate talent!
Network. At times, “it’s not what you know but who you know” that matters. All the knowledge you have can only bring you so far. Your personal network is going to be of a great help, especially when looking for a job. Take time to build relationships with your supervisors in the company.
Leave a good impression. Coming to work on time, submitting quality work and meeting deadlines is expected of you. You aren’t just representing yourself, but also the school that you come from. Don’t forget to thank your supervisors at the end of your internship, even if it had been an unpleasant experience for you.
Now, stop all that complaining and whining and make your internship count! Remember! It all begins with you!
So now, you’re an intern. You’re not quite drawing the salary of a working adult yet, but you’re a lot more experienced than a student now. You were close to the top of the food chain in your school, but right now you’re at the bottom of the pile in terms of occupational hierarchy. What’s more, this may very well be your first stint in your industry, and you don’t want to blow it.
But there’s a reason it’s an internship. It’s meant to be part of your education, and so you should treat as a learning experience. It might not have the structure and formalisation of lectures and tutorials, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pick up a few valuable skills that will be very useful in your career.
1) Making A Good First Impression
In all likelihood, you probably did give a good first impression at your internship interview. But now you have to give that same good first impression to everyone you work with. You’ll only be there for a few months, so whatever impression people make of you is going to stick, and you’re not going to have the luxury of time to change it.
Learn how to give an elevator pitch (a concise summary of who you are and what you do), how to engage people (sometimes, talking about the weather is perfectly acceptable), and most importantly, how to sell yourself (why should someone even spend time talking to you). You can Google all this, sure, but your internship is the best time to practice and hone those skills. These are the soft skills that will land you a job, give you that raise, and bring you that promotion when you’re working full-time – so why not practice it now?
Now that you’ve made a good first impression, it’s time to nurture that relationship and relearn the art of soc
ialising. You’re not just making friends now – you’re making contacts. These aren’t people you’ll necessarily hang out with, but they aren’t exactly acquaintances either. These are professional relationships that are built upon on a commercial basis instead of a social one, opening up opportunities that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
This doesn’t mean that your contacts can’t be your friends, though. Some of your contacts may well end up becoming your closest friends. Most of them won’t, and you’ll meet them only during corporate settings.
These contacts will be able to offer you far more than you can offer them. So leverage on your youth, your energy, and your adaptability as your selling points.
3)Dealing With Difficult People
And then you’ll meet difficult people, who aren’t just dispensing your grades anymore, but dispensing your paycheck. They aren’t always bosses, but co-workers or even subordinates. But you have to learn how to address the issues and conflicts that come with the workplace, because they are inevitable.
Most importantly, don’t take it personally, and don’t take your work conflicts home with you. Leave them in the workplace where they belong, and draw a line between your personal and professional lives. There are many strategies of dealing with less than pleasant colleagues, but most neglect to mention that you shouldn’t bring these burdens back home with you.
Even as a student, you’ve had to learn how to juggle multiple modules, extra-curricular activities, and parties. But now there’s the added element of commercialisation – your time is literally worth money, both to the company and to yourself. Deadlines are no longer as comfortable (or flexible) as before, and you will have to make sacrifices and learn that
done is better than perfect.
Pick up some productivity frameworks and test them out, like GTD, time boxing or working in spurts. Just like with making first impressions, this is the time to test out what’s the best way to manage your time and figure out how to make yourself work more efficiently.
Learning what makes you the most productive is just one aspect of your working style. If you don’t already know it, your internship is the best time for self-discovery to determine how you work. What motivates you? What type of work do you like? What type of work are you good at? You’ll be surprised to find that you’re not always good at the things you like, but if you can learn to like the things you’re good at, then you’re one of the lucky few.
Your working style will determine what kind of company you’ll best suited for, and consequently whether you’ll be in for the long haul. Can you deal with tight deadlines? Cope with grey areas of professional ethics? Live with irregular working hours?
6) Industry Standards And Practices
This goes without saying. One day in a workplace can teach you more than one year in the classroom. Pick up the jargon and learn the software, because one day you’re going to be member of the workforce in that industry.
Study the expectations and what industry professionals look out for in the deliverables. The average Joe won’t have the trained eye that someone in the line will have, and you’ll need to develop exactly that to be able to identify quality.
7) Business Processes And Workflows
This doesn’t necessarily mean accounting (unless you’re an accountant) but rather, how things work in your profession. There is always a supply chain, the system that creates the products or services in your trade, and knowing where you stand in that supply chain is very valuable.
It might seem more like management level issues, but it will help better understand the expectations and deadlines levied upon your full-time co-workers, and also know where to troubleshoot when things aren’t moving.
8) Companies And People To Avoid
You’re most probably going to pick up some names of organisations and individuals that you should avoid, for whatever reason – they aren’t good paymasters, they don’t deliver quality work, or they cut too many corners. Remember them, as these are the people who could very well exploit you when you’re a fresh graduate.
You might still want to give them a chance though, it may just be a misunderstanding that was blown out of proportion. But information is power, and trust your gut feel. If something feels wrong, it probably is.
9) Companies And People To Look Out For
Conversely, there will be places and people that are highly revered and sought after. And if you haven’t been around in the trade long enough, they aren’t going to be easily recognisable if you come across them. So keep in mind those names, so that if the opportunity arises, you’ll know who you’re talking to, even long after your internship is over.
This will be the time to put all that practice at making a good impression into play.
10) Making Coffee
I can’t emphasise this enough. You need to learn how to make a good cup of coffee, or where to buy some when you need to. You will need to do this at least once in your intern life, so pick it up now. Whether it’s the difference between an Americano and flat white, or a kopi-o and a kopi siu tai, make the effort to learn, remember, and practice it.
Above all, be professional at your internship. It’s the closest chance you’ll get to working without requiring as many qualifications and certifications, and also your best chance at a getting a good job before you graduate.
Internships are a fantastic way of getting some solid working experience. While you might have a particular career in mind during the course of your college life, having an internship in that field might be the perfect way of testing the waters and really knowing whether you want to pursue this path. The question is: Would having an internship in a small or big company be more beneficial for a clueless, wide-eyed young person? Or in other words – is it better to be a big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in a big pond?
Big Pond: Great Opportunity, Narrow Tunnel Vision
Big corporations typically pour buckets of money into their internship program, hoping to secure the best and the brightest to come under their wings and groom them to be the next company superstar. Naturally, their internship programs are also incredibly elaborate, with clear job scopes and goals to be achieved at the end of the program. Do well here, and your path to the big time will be paved out nicely.
And yes, having a big name on your resume really does make it look prettier.
The downside is that what you learn from these internships will largely be limited to the scope of the project assigned to you. With supervisors looking over your shoulder and breathing down your neck, you will find yourself spending the bulk of your time working hard on your achieving the goals that your project has limited you to, and less time actually getting an all-rounded look at what the position actually entails in general.
Additionally, you will find that big shots in big corporations hardly have time to spend with the executives below them, much less an intern. Because of this, you will, for the most part, be unable to learn much from the best in the business at all.
Small Pond: Real Impact, Increased Stress
Small businesses usually have about 10-15 employees. Start-ups, in particular, might only have 3 – the two co-founders and a jack of all trades. What this means is that whatever work you do is probably the real thing – that is, it has a real impact on the rise or fall of the firm you are working at. When small businesses hire interns, they usually do not have a fixed project for you to complete, or goals for you to meet. Instead, they usually immerse you (slowly but steadily, or unceremoniously) into the deep end of the role you are interning for.
Having interned at a start-up, I found that the title I was given (Creative Copywriter) was probably a typo the bosses had made when typing out the advertisement. Far from just writing, I found that I had the opportunity to do many other things. Of course, don’t be surprised if you have to do some administrative work as well. In a small company, everyone gets their hands wet and dirty in every area. And that is the fun of it – you get to learn so much.
On the other hand, because of your “all-rounded-ness”, an internship of this nature will likely not be an accurate depiction of your job scope in the future (unless, of course, you join a start-up). Also, knowing that the work you push out could likely be the downfall of the firm could potentially be fairly nerve-wrecking. On the whole, however, such a wide array of pressures is certainly more beneficial than harmful for one who likely has no idea what he or she wants to do in the future with absolutely certainty.
At the end of the day, however, it all depends on what kind of experience you are looking for. Are you looking for a well-defined experience, or one that allows you to try your hand at many areas? Each has its pros and cons.
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.
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.
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.