The following is a guest post from How2become.
Today getting accepted onto an internship program can be as difficult as finding a job. For many people the promise of an internship fills them with dreams about being able to spruce up their CV or resume and take that golden step towards employment in the field of their choice once the program is completed.
However, not all internships are created equally, and some interns will find that they are no more employable after their internship than before. If you want to turn your internship into a career you can’t just sit back and hope things go well – you have to make things happen. While you may have thought simply getting an internship was the hard part you’ll soon discover there’s a lot more hard work to come. To make sure the internship is just the first step on the road to a career, rather than a path to a dead end, you’ll need to follow these tips.
Select the Right Internship
If your internship is going to be little more than making coffee and photocopying documents you’re not going to learn anything or give anyone who could provide you with a reference the opportunity to see what an asset you can be to the company. Research roles you want to apply for carefully, and don’t be shy about contacting someone at the company directly to ensure that you can make a positive impact.
You might find that upon your arrival you’re given a lot of menial jobs. While you won’t feel like smiling it’ll be in your best interests to grin and bear it, unless you want to instantly be known as a complainer. Of course, within a few days you’ll want to offer suggestions as to how you might be better utilized – that brings us to the next point.
While this internship might feel like one of the biggest things to happen in your life, it’ll be just another day at the office for everyone else. Nobody will be around to babysit you or make sure you’re keeping yourself occupied. Some companies might have an excellent internship program that helps their interns learn new skills and develop but at other places they might not be so organized (which is why you need to take time selecting the right internship). If you find yourself in a negative environment try to set up a meeting with a manager where you can discuss some goals and what you’d like to achieve.
You’ll soon find that it’s up to you to offer your services when needed and seek out ways to be helpful. As soon as someone notices that having you around is actually useful and that you are responsible you’ll be given more important, interesting tasks.
Know When to Act Like You’re Already an Employee
They say that clothes make the man, but equally they make the woman. You should dress as smartly as everyone else and always conduct yourself in a professional manner. You should also ensure that you’re always punctual and be prepared for the possibility of a couple of late nights. However, don’t always act like you’re an employee – you should definitely keep out of any office politics and resist the temptation to gossip about colleagues for the time being.
Make Yourself Known
Make the most out of your internship by networking. If the organization hosts social events attend them and if it has teams join them – basically make yourself known. Getting closer to colleagues will give you a chance to hear what it’s like working for the company and help you decide whether you would want to apply to the company for a full-time position.
Of course, most interns move on, and if you’ve managed to network well with senior figures and leaders you can bank on their glowing references to help you find a job elsewhere. You shouldn’t always pester your managers with problems, but from time to time approach them with potential solutions to problems. This way they’ll always think of you as a problem solver with a positive attitude.
Stay in Touch
Don’t forget to keep in touch when you’re gone. Sending thank you emails to everyone that helped you during your internship and keeping in casual contact with colleagues you became friendly with is a great way to keep in their thoughts. This also means that if there’s a job vacancy within the company or they hear about something somewhere else you’ll be the first person they mention it to.
Richard McMunn is a writer for How2become.com; a leading career and recruitment specialist for public sector careers in the UK. For the last 8 years How2become has helped numerous people prepare for and pass tough recruitment processes and assessment centers in order to secure their dream job. You can also connect with How2become on Google Plus.
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