So, are you an intern? Internship is one among many good ways to prepare yourself before really stepping into the world of work. You can learn plenty from the seniors regarding work culture and industry, while discovering your true work interest at the same time. An internship is meant to be part of your education, so you should treat it as a learning experience. It might not have the structure and formalisation of lectures and tutorials, but that does not mean you cannot pick up a few valuable skills that will be very useful in your career.
Here are seven skills you will likely get from doing an internship:
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 will only be there for a few months, so whatever impression people make of you is going to stick, and you are not going to have the luxury of time to change it. Therefore, learn how to give an elevator pitch, engage people, and how to sell yourself to people around you. You can Google how to do all this, 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 are working full-time.
Internship is the best place to nurture relationships and relearn the art of socialising. You are not just making friends now – you are making contacts. The people you work with are people you will necessarily hang out with, but they are not 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 would not have access to otherwise. Likewise, 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
At work, there are not only people who are easy going but also those who are difficult to deal with. These difficult individuals are not always bosses, but also co-workers or even subordinates. You have to learn how to address the issues and conflicts that come with the workplace, because they are inevitable. When dealing with difficult employees, do not take it personally, and do not 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 should not bring these burdens back home with you.
4- Time management and priorities
Even as a student, you have had to learn how to juggle multiple modules, extra-curricular activities, and parties. But now there is an 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.
5- Your working style
Learning what makes you the most productive is just one aspect of your working style. If you do not 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 will be surprised to find that you are not always good at the things you like, but if you can learn to like the things you are good at, then you are one of the lucky few.
6- Industry standards and practices
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 are going to be a member of the workforce in that industry.
7- Business processes and workflows
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. Although it might seem more like management level issues, it will help better understand the expectations and deadlines levied upon your full-time co-workers, and also know where to troubleshoot when things do not go as expected.