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Internships and co-op experiences allow students and/or recent grads to gain work experience in industries that interest them. So keep reading to find out the 3 things every intern should know.
I recently started my position as a business technical analyst intern in the corporate office of a non-profit organization. Now, this is not my first rodeo in a ‘trial employment’ situation. Back when I was interested in pursuing a career in broadcast journalism I worked closely with a local producer at Rogers TV and found that working with adults that were already established is a great learning experience for any student. The following are great ways to make the most out of any internship:
1. Guide your experience with learning goals
Entering the position a normal student may feel a mixture of excitement, nervousness, and well, confusion about what it is they will be asked to do. This is why you should start your internship with 3 or 4 learning goals that can better structure how you approach the position. Goals do not have to be permanent – they can be modified each week or month to better guide and organize your work.
Share the learning goals with your supervisor and make it a priority to communicate why you are there (because after all, you may or may not be getting paid here). Using outcomes that are meaningful that can be used to develop your resume/portfolio are just as good as a salary.
Some examples of learning goals:
- Enrich my knowledge of broadcast journalism by participating in live and taped productions.
- Develop my professional network by stepping out of my comfort zone and introducing myself to 6 new people.
- Enhance my design skills by creating a poster for the new business campaign.
2. Take Initiative
Want to be a memorable intern? Standing out amongst the other co-op students by focusing on how you can excel at tasks that are within your capabilities is a great way to do that. (It may sound harsh but it’s what a leader would do).
Given that you are new to the organization wont know everything. However initiative can be as simple as finishing work efficiently, before deadlines, and/or volunteering to take additional work.
Speaking up and asking questions to upper management.
Introverts: We live in a communicating world. Just take a deep breath, prepare your thoughts, and speak. 9 times out of 10 the person will be more focused on answering your question/statement than how it was asked/said.
Working with the learning goals you set for yourself can be used as a way to show initiative. Ask for feedback about your performance and align the constructive criticism with those goals, modify if necessary.
Just get involved!
3. Leave on a positive note
It is important to remember that this internship may or may not be paid. Nonetheless, considering the references and letter of recommendations you may receive can be extremely helpful in securing your next ‘real’ position.
Many jobs nowadays ask for 3 to 5 years of experience which is ridiculous because how do they expect us students to manage working that much while we’re in school. A benefit that internships have is they allow your ‘working-student’ experiences to count as relevant work experience.
So again, focus on building a positive relationship by putting your best foot forward and leaving the position on a positive note , it can make all the difference further down your chosen path.
Use the opportunity as a chance to reflect on how you’ve grown and the skills you’ve learned. While it’s fresh in your mind, update your resume and practice speaking out loud about your learning. Most likely it will come up in a future interview so practice practice practice!
Consider situational interview questions such as:
“Tell me a time where your displayed initiative?”
“Describe a challenge you overcame, and how you did that?”
“How do you work in a team? Provide an example of a time you worked collaboratively.”
The Expert in anything was once a Beginner. – Unknown
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