Careers: Getting the Most from Interning

My degree includes a ‘Year in Industry’ which is essence is like an extended (and paid!) internship. I’ve recently been asked to stay a little longer with my company so I’ll be working up to the end of August – something I’m thrilled to bits about as the thought of leaving isn’t something I’ve come to terms with yet! I thought I’d put together a post with a few hints and tips about how to get the most out of your internship.
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Treat It As A Job

I think the biggest mistake you can make whilst interning is thinking of it as ‘just’ work experience. Yes it might be temporary, but temporary jobs have a habit of turning permanent for the right person. If you pretend it is your final career you are much more likely to be motivated, and in turn you’ll get all the more out of the experience.

Ask Questions

When I first started at my placement I’d sit in team meetings, abbreviations thrown in everywhere, wondering what the hell was going on. I wrote a list of anything I didn’t understand (that first week it was just shy of two sides of A4!) and went through it with my supervisor. I found I was too nervous to ask alllll the questions in front of the whole team, so speaking to just one person made it bearable – but make sure you get those niggly questions answered. You’ll never do the job to the best of your ability if you don’t know what others are doing…
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Make Notes

On the back of my last point, make notes. Whether this is notes regarding a task you are instructed to do (so you don’t get halfway through and completely forget the next step), or notes about background information…they are SO important. There are some I still refer to now – for instance with each client case I’ve made notes about how I dealt with them, and I’ll flick over them once in a while if an unusual situation comes up. I have 2 massive folders full of notes from this year, something I didn’t expect!

Ask For Feedback

Every time you do a task, get feedback on how you did, how you could improve. In addition, try and find out how your work will be used. Will your research be used to build a model, will your analysis be presented to a client? That way you’ll build up the bigger picture and be able to target your work in a more effective way.

Volunteer Yourself

If there’s work going on in the department that sounds interesting, say you can help out. My manager was working on a massive project when I started, and within a few months I asked if I could help. I’m still working on the project now having (if I say so myself) done quite well on the research stage.
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Explore Other Areas

Yes, you are generally assigned to one team, one department, but that doesn’t stop you talking to people in others. I myself have performed a questionnaire of different departments to gain feedback for our team – and find out about their jobs in the process – but this could be done informally or socially too. Of course, getting involved in a multi-department project is always great!

Enjoy Yourself

Above all, enjoy yourself. Put a smile on your face, socialise with colleagues and make the most of it. Now i feel all emotional about getting ready to leave placement…

NB: If you are currently searching for internship opportunities, I highly recommend looking at Inspiring Interns, a UK graduate recruitment agency

Have you even done an internship or work placement? What tips to you have for making the most of it?