5 Qualities to be an Outstanding Intern

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:

1. Enthusiasm

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.

2. Initiative

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!

3. Trustworthy

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.

4. Brave

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.


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?


Read also: Internships – Better Being a Big Fish in a Small Pond or Vice Versa?


2) Networking


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.


4) Time Management And Priorities

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.

 Read also: 10 Tips To Increase Productivity At Work

5) Your Working Style

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.