An internship is a fantastic opportunity to experience a work environment, improve your skills, and network with senior members of the industry. It’ll help to enhance your employability and give you a competitive advantage when you apply for your first role as a graduate.
An internship might even lead to a job offer – some employers view an internship as a long interview and trial period! But to succeed at an internship, you have to know what expectations the employer has. With the following internship tips from the ifs Careers team, you can fufil these expectations and successfully complete your internship.
It’s important to ensure you are professional from day one. Don’t be late - one sure way of creating a bad impression is tardiness. Dress in business attire, until you’ve appropriately assessed the dress code.Obviously, don't drink while you're working and don't make personal calls and appointments during work hours.
Know your role
If it’s not offered, ask for a tour of the site and a discussion with your line manager to ensure that you are both clear on your role and objectives. Internship experiences are only helpful if you’re learning something – not if you’re getting coffee and photocopying. Make sure you understand what is expected of you and if it’s not enough, talk to your line manager for extra work – or alternatively, try and come up with solutions to some of the main problems faced by the company.
Try to meet your immediate team early on, including at any social events. Try to remember everyone’s name: if you forget, say so - people don’t expect you know to all 50 team members immediately but if it will get embarrassing if it’s 2 months on and you still don’t know key team members.
Remember to talk to colleagues about their remit, responsibilities and what qualifications and experience they needed for their role: their insights are valuable to you. This is also a good opportunity to make an impression and start curating a network of industry contacts.
Learn as much as you can
Obtain as much internally-produced information as you can, e.g. product details, organisational structure or newsletters While it’s confusing, try to learn any company jargon (especially acronyms) as quickly as possible it’ll save a lot of confusion during team meetings! Attend any training courses on offer even if they do not appear to be immediately relevant: they are an opportunity to learn about new areas that might be useful in future, and an additional networking opportunity.
Do your best
Try to complete your work quickly, but not at the expense of accuracy. If you run out of things to do (perhaps unlikely in today’s workplaces!), ask if there are other people you can help. You might be able to spend some time in another business area, where you will learn more and gain additional experience. This will also improve your profile: your interest and helpfulness will be noticed and might lead to further opportunities.
To find out more about how to apply for internships while studying, contact the Careers and Employability team.
Sue Sedwell is the Head of Accreditation and Work-based Learning at ?ifs.