There is so much value to be derived from internships, whether that's getting a headstart at networking in your chosen industry, beginning to make a name for yourself, or being challenged by the tasks. Even the bad placements teach you lot about what you don't want to do. But to get the absolute maximum out of your internship or other placement, you must have a plan and a proactive approach. Never be afraid to volunteer for great opportunities and pull them off well - you're ultimate aim is to make yourself valuable. If you can demonstrate this, you'll be first in line for the permanent jobs when you graduate, or are likely to get signposted to other opportunities by people you meet along the way. Make sure your time is well spent, and you'll emerge with lots of value from your time spent in the workplace. Check out our tips to getting the most out of your internship here.
Make The Right Impression
You may feel like being the intern is pretty low level, but actually, you're going to be encountering a lot of people who may have the power to help or hinder your career in the future, so it's crucial that you make a good impression. Hopefully you will be given a variety of tasks, but make sure that you approach even the mundane ones with a can-do attitude and see them as essential - yep, even the filing! Look for ways to offer help and add value where you can. Never turn up late for meetings or look disinterested, as people will assume you don't want to be there. And it goes without saying never to be at risk of failing mouth swab drug testing. If you show yourself to be competent and reliable, you're likely to get given better tasks.
You should expect some guidance, but equally in a work placement or internship you must show that you have initiative and can think for yourself. Make sure that you have a planner or use a scheduling app to take note of when and where you're supposed to be and note down tasks and deadlines that you need to complete. Learning to manage your time effectively in the workplace is a skill that you'll need in your career, so start now.
Introduce Yourself To People
Getting to know people is a must- you never know when they may hear of an opportunity or be able to help you in some way. So try to be proactive about introducing yourself to people and asking about their roles and career paths. If you approach these introductions nicely, most people will be flattered that you want to know about them, and you may pick up some valuable tips along the way.
Ask For Feedback
At the end of your placement, or even during it if it's for a longer time period, you should ask for constructive feedback on your performance. It can take a little courage to ask people to critique your performance on a project, but it's a great way to make the most out of your time there and learn how to improve. Informal feedback is just as important as the big formal review at the end.
M.E.L. is an attorney and small business entrepreneur whose mission is to help professionals conquer the workaday world with style and poise.
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