I’ve done 6 internships/work experience placements since January (and you’re correct, I’m now super tired!) Yet despite the tiredness, I’ve had some really amazing experiences. My CV now looks pretty kick-ass, if I do say so myself. I’m not quite so egotistical as to say I was the world’s best intern; but now, at the end of my intern period, I’ve learnt a couple of things to help any fellow interns-to-be out:
Sometimes actually getting an internship or a company to offer you work experience is the hardest part. It’s best to email an actual person rather than a general information email, so scout around to try and find one. They also probably won’t reply first time as they’ll be getting so many emails! Make sure you follow up with them a week later, and if they have an office number, don’t be afraid to call it. Obviously don’t harass them (we don’t want any lawsuits here), but a gentle nudge is never a bad thing.
2.Research the Company Beforehand
If you show up and know absolutely nothing about the company and what they do, you’re going to get off to a bad start. Have a dig and make sure you know your stuff. You won’t be expected to know all the ins-and-outs of how it works, but a good overview shows you really want to intern at this specific organisation.
3.Ask When You Don’t Understand Things
Though knowing about your chosen field is a positive, and shows you want to be there, remember you’re an intern and not the boss. If they’ve given you something to do and you’re a bit unclear, it’s better to ask them to clarify then to spend five hours on it, only to find you did it wrong.
4.Don’t Harass Them About Finding You Things to Do.
Sadly part of being an intern means being bored. These people also have their own work to get on with, so finding you things to do won’t be their sole priority. Once you’ve finished off a task, that’s a good time to check if they need help with anything else, but don’t keep checking back every five minutes – they’ll just end up irritated. When you don’t have things to do, try and be proactive and think of something that could be helpful. I was doing internships at magazines, so looking for interesting stories was a good thing to do when I had a spare moment.
5.It’s The Little Things
A working relationship is just like a personal one: it’s the little things that are important. Make sure you turn up on time, don’t be constantly checking your phone, and yes, offer to make tea. You may not be getting paid, but making a good impression is still super important, and doing things like getting into the office at the right time, are definite points in your favour.
Doing unpaid work can feel a little frustrating, but the organisation you’re interning for are helping you out by showing the ropes of your chosen field. You gain great experience and make some valuable connections, so be grateful for that. I’m not saying buy them all flowers and chocolates, but say thank you when you leave, and maybe email them a few days after you finish your internship to say that you enjoyed it. You never know, you could end up applying for a job there in the future.