An internship is like taking a step into the unknown for most people. It will be your first taste of the real working world. Naturally, you will make a few mistakes along the way, and there will be some things you did not expect. Nevertheless, to help you be better prepared, read on to discover five things your boss wants you to know before you start your internship, or anywhere else in the world for that matter.
- An internship is different from being in school – Firstly, you need to recognise that an internship is going to be entirely different from a classroom. In school or college, if you slack off, you are the only person that is going to be impacted. However, with your internship, the way you act impacts other people; you are part of a team. You need to leave school life at the door and try and fit into the company’s culture. We recommend that you view an internship as more of a permanent job. Yes, it is an education, but it is not about theory or sitting in a classroom. You are still going to be responsible to the company you are interning for, and your performance is going to matter to them, so it is critical to take this seriously when completing your internship.
- You might not use all of the skills you learned in school, and that’s normal – You will find that you learn a lot of theory at college or university, and a good chunk of this doesn’t get put to use. This is normal. At school, you don’t tend to learn about hard skills that you will use on the job, but rather you are taught how to think. So, when you arrive at your internship, don’t be shocked if there is not a lot of reference to your studies. At the end of the day, these are all experiences that are designed to build your character and skills, making you a more well-rounded and employable person. Let’s say you do some volunteer work in Tanzania before you decide to go off to university, with school, internship experience, volunteer work, and a degree on your side, there is nothing to check off your list when it comes to making yourself an open-minded individual with the worldly knowledge needed to succeed in any business.
- You should act like it is a permanent position – You are ‘not just an intern’ – you hold great value at the company; you have been selected from a number of people. You should treat your internship like a paid position, even if you are not getting any pay. After all, there is every chance you can make your internship into a full-time job, but you will only do this if you have the right attitude and put in all your efforts. You need to arrive on time and be enthusiastic about every task that is thrown your way, even if this does mean making the coffee every day.
- You should ask questions; feedback is designed to help you – The only way to hone your internship skills and get better is to receive feedback. Don’t be afraid to ask questions so you can discover what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. This does not mean you should bombard your supervisor, but receiving feedback is critical. After all, if you don’t ask questions, how are you supposed to grow and get better?
- It is okay to be wrong or to make mistakes – A lot of interns are so afraid of making an error that it hampers their experience because they never let themselves reach their true potential. Remember that an internship is about learning. If you were the finished product, there would be no point in going on one. Don’t dwell on any mistakes you make during your internship; simply learn from them.
There is no denying that doing an internship can be an intimidating experience for a lot of children. They feel anxious about the prospect of working for a company and being responsible for workplace tasks. It takes people out of their comfort zone, which is, of course, a good thing when you consider the overall picture. However, being prepared by knowing what to expect from your internship can make a massive difference and help you to have the most positive experience.