Top 10 things to do during an internship

Internships can be a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate your skills and develop relationships in your ideal work environment. For our students at PE, these placements are the perfect place to practice and hone soft skills – something employers are desperate to see from potential job candidates.

Bridging that gap between university and employment and getting students the right experience is one of our driving passions.  Putting it simply, the right experience can be the difference between kick-starting your career – or stalling. This is what makes an internship so important.

Internships can make or break your career

We work hard to find the right internship opportunity for each of our students, to ensure they get the best training and experience possible. We do this because quality workplace experience gives our students an edge in the competitive job market when it comes to landing their dream job.

It’s something that takes a lot of time and effort, but it’s worth it. More than 1 in 3 PE students land a role with their host company upon completion of their internship.

Here are our top 10 things to do during an internship

You want to make the most out of your time with your host company, so here are our best kept secrets to maximising the benefits of your internship.

Do your homework

Research the company you’re about to start with. Give yourself an understanding of what they do, where they fit within their industry (are they a market leader, a growing start-up etc.) and who the key executives are. If the company is one you want to end up working for, this kind of knowledge and preparation can do wonders for opening the right doors. Plus – it shows you care, it shows you aren’t treating your time as “just an internship” but as something valuable you’ve committed to.

Set goals

Know what you want to achieve before you start your internship and set yourself some goals. Think about what you want to learn, what you want to improve upon, what resources you’ll need to use, how you’ll work with your mentor and seek guidance/feedback – get into the nitty gritty. If you make your goals SMART, you’ll walk away from your internship with more than you could have imagined.

Develop your relationship with your mentor

Your mentor is there to help you. They’re an invaluable source of knowledge and experience, waiting for you to ask questions! Talk with them every day, seek feedback on how you are performing, and learn as much as you can. Carry a notebook so you can write down the things you learn, and the questions you have (so you don’t forget them before you ask them.) Keep track of your learning so your mentor knows that you value their time as much as your own during your internship.

Get good at time management

If you want to leave a good impression, have good time management. This is something you can improve upon over time, but in general, you should figure out a method to track and keep on top of your workload. Some people write to-do lists, other people do it digitally using software like Todoist. Would you benefit from creating a free Trello account to help you stay cross your projects? Does your host company have tools you can use? You can even read books to improve the way you prioritise work, such as the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Time management is also about effective communication, both in understanding other people’s needs and communicating your own. If you can develop time management skills well, you’ll finish your internship with a glowing recommendation (or hopefully a job!)

Own your mistakes

You’re learning. Everyone makes mistakes. Don’t be afraid to make them – mistakes are your opportunity to learn and grow, provided you actually do learn and grow from them. You’re not expected to be at the same level as everyone else around you – it’s an internship!

Present yourself well

How you present yourself is important, it represents who you are (your personal ‘brand’) and how you fit in with the culture of the workplace around you. Show your host company that you take their interest in you seriously and dress for success.

Network

Build professional relationships. Invite people to coffee, introduce yourself to people in the broader team at your host company. Think of your internship as the perfect chance to network with other professionals in your industry. You never know who you might connect with, your colleagues might introduce you to other people in their professional network, and put you in a position to land future opportunities.

Act appropriately

Make sure you work well with others, have a great attitude, are passionate about the opportunity to be there and motivated about your work. Show your colleagues and mentor that you’re reliable. Give your internship everything you’ve got. You don’t want to leave a poor impression, or have your host company regret the decision to place you with them. Even if you think you deserve a job at the end of the day, poor behaviour won’t do you any favours. Be on your best behaviour and you’ll have no problem securing a great reference for future job prospects.

Grow

Can you go above and beyond what is being asked of you? Are there extra tasks you could take on and learn from that would help your mentor or colleagues? Ask what you can do to help – but only if you have the capacity to do so – and develop your capabilities further.

Share gratitude

Show your mentor that you’re grateful for their support. Thank people for teaching you something new, for helping you with a task, or for simply being a great colleague. It’ll help you develop those working relationships further, and show that you’re taking your internship seriously.

By Jessica Hutchinson

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