By: Shannon Looney, June 26 2018
Internships can often kick-start a person’s professional career. Going into my first internship last year, I was filled with excitement and nerves. Learning to navigate the waters of the professional workplace was uncharted, and my overall goals and intentions were muddled. Internships are a necessity for students and young professionals today, and to prepare some conscious objectives is the smartest thing you can do in order to add more value to the professional experience. Whether it is to expose yourself to a business environment, acquire more transferable skills, or grow your network, there are plenty of profitable takeaways to be had from your time with a host company. The amount of energy you put in is what you’ll get out of your internship - below are my top five tips to making the most of your experience!
1. Create a set of goals and stand by them
Before, during, and after your internship, goals are always important to have in your mind. They are a personal way of tracking progress, intent, and results. When it comes to your internship, having an aim of what you want to accomplish is essential. It provides you with a ladder of aspirations that you can climb up as you learn the tricks and trades of the company you are interning for. Goals could include; gaining essential knowledge of your industry, mastering technical skills, or making key contacts. It’s a good idea to write down and circle back to these goals throughout your internship.
2. Start building a portfolio of the work you’re doing
Aside from the professional experience, it is important that you have tangible projects to present to future employers, and proudly showcase on your resume and LinkedIn profile! You put hard work into your internship, it is vital for you to be able to talk on the experiences verbally and visually. If you don’t feel your supervisor has assigned projects that will boost your portfolio, ask! Requesting projects, or self-assigning a project indicates that you are willing to take a lead, as well as demonstrating independence and hard work.
3. Acclimatize to different personalities
Communication is vital when interacting with colleagues, clients and contacts on a professional level. It’s almost certain that during your internship you will encounter personalities that are very different from your own and you’ll have to learn to adapt. There’s bound to be group interaction, projects that span multiple departments, and sometimes conflict. Strive to be conscious of the diverse amount of characters and working styles within your company and you’re sure to be a vital asset to your new team!
4. Identifying your strengths and weaknesses
In order for you to get the most out of your internship, it is important to recognize your strengths and weaknesses. The benefits to gaining real-world experience is important when it comes to developing your professional career, but if you are unaware of your areas of improvement you could be limiting the opportunity for growth. Often, your direct supervisor is a great person to ask about what you could improve because they see you through a different lense. Conversing with them about your strengths and weaknesses can be intimidating, but don’t shy away, it’ll only benefit you!
A common and often dreaded question when it comes to interviews is, “what is your greatest weakness?” This is often dreaded because we never know what to say. Listing your greatest weakness as not knowing your greatest weakness is unacceptable, taking the time to sort out what you are great out and what needs improving will make this question less of hassle. The best way to learn more about yourself is by creating two separate lists and brainstorming in the context of yourself as a professional. Be sure to take action once you are finished self-reflecting!
5. Ask for Feedback
In receiving feedback you are unlocking opportunities for change and innovation. When your supervisor asks how you are doing, be sure to follow-up with your own questions and a review of your performance. Ask, yourself and your supervisor, “Am I meeting the needs of the company?” or “What could I be doing better.” Any feedback can be used for your gain, even the negative! Learning to love constructive criticism is highly important because how else are you going to learn to improve your weaker qualities than by being made aware of them?
There are many ways that you can make the most out of an internship. Be sure to stay conscious of what is best for you, in order to make the most out of the professional experience. Although I have only given five essentials, there is much more to learn as you navigate your career path. Be sure to follow City Internships on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more insights and career advice!