I finish my internship next week. These 6 months have gone ridiculously fast - 2 more days and I will have basically finished my year abroad.
I’ve interned before but I was SO nervous with starting this job. I think the fact I’d be working and communicating in my second language all day was part of the reason, but also 6 months felt like a long time and I wanted to start off on the best foot possible.
Then I got really ill, but thought it’d look bad to call in sick straight away, so I struggled through. I was focusing on getting through the day without sneezing or coughing over anyone or passing out at my desk, rather than building up relationships, being social with my work mates and making the best impression.
But I learnt quite a few things about the start of an internship, so here are my tips for if you’re starting one soon:
First impressions are important...
People will judge you on your first few days. We’re humans. We have nothing else to go on than how you behave when you first meet someone. So don’t turn up late, dress smart, be friendly and introduce yourself to everyone you meet, ask questions and be interested, and don’t even think about opening Facebook!
...but they’re not everything
Likewise, if you are ill or make mistakes in your first few days, that doesn’t mean you’ve ruined all your chances of having a good internship. You might have to work a little more to change these impressions of you, but it is by no means impossible.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help or feedback
Do not struggle with your work in silence. I was worried in my first couple of weeks that I wasn’t picking things up quick enough, after an informal chat with my boss he informed me it usually takes people 3 months or so to get up to speed and I was doing great. People aren’t expecting you to pick things up overnight and don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is better than making mistakes!
Or for more things to do
As an intern, it’s inevitable that at some point you will probably reach the end of your to do list and not know what to do next. Do not use that opportunity to sit back and relax or do some online shopping. Ask if there’s anything you can help with or what you can do. This shows motivation and that you’re hard working!
If you see a task that needs doing, DO IT. This makes you really stand out as it shows you can think on your own, even if it’s just filing. People are always grateful if you can take some of their workload off them, so don’t be afraid to ask ‘would you like me to do that for you?’
Act as though it’s your full time, career job
The thing with internships is that they’re usually for a set period of time and short-term. Therefore you’re going to go in with a slightly different attitude than if it was your full time job, but you shouldn’t. You should work hard, right up to your last day and try and integrate yourself into the team as much as possible. Don’t think that making friends with colleagues is a waste of time because you won’t be here in 6 months, having those contacts is so worthwhile!
If you’re starting an internship soon, I wish you all the luck!!