10 tips for your internship

Our top tips to help you make the most of the experience

Winning an internship place is an amazing achievement, but it's only the beginning of the process. It's important that you go into this experience with the right attitude in order to get the maximum career benefit from it. Here's our advice.

1. Prepare

Make sure you've read anything that's been sent through to you in advance and found out as much as you can about your employer, particularly the area you'll be in.

Also, try to set some goals for your internship, which it may be appropriate to share with your supervisor during your first few days. And pay attention in any initial training so you're up to speed once you get to your desk.

2. Don't hold back

Your internship will be over all too quickly, so it's important to plunge in from day one and take the initiative where appropriate.

Be observant and flexible, and seize any opportunities that come up to meet clients or senior people, take on responsibility, or do something new.

3. Remember it's a learning experience

People won't expect you to be an industry expert and they'll know you're doing the internship to educate yourself.

So ask questions, check in with someone else if you're unsure about anything, and remember that it's probably ok to make an honest mistake once as an intern - just don't do the same thing again!

4. Don't be arrogant

Completing small tasks and mundane work can be a great way to learn about a business.

And if you do so to a high standard, efficiently, and without fuss, you'll make a great impression on your colleagues, who will almost certainly then get you involved with more challenging work.

5. Work smart

You'll come unstuck if you commit to more you can manage, so remember to be realistic when asked about your knowledge and experience, what you can achieve in a given time, and how much extra work you can take on.

And remember you're in the workplace not at university - a quick and simple approach can often be a better option in the commercial world than anything too complex and time-consuming.

6. Remember your views are valuable

You'll bring a fresh perspective to the organisation, which means you might be able to spot better ways of approaching projects and issues.

And you may even know more than your colleagues about some areas, such as social media or the best ways to appeal to the student market.

7. Don't forget to socialise

It's easy to get caught up in your work and decide you're too busy to spend time chatting in the kitchen or going to the office summer party. But socialising can be as important a part of an internship as the work you do. It's a great way to get information and make useful contacts - just make sure you avoid gossip, office politics, and negativity.

Being social also helps make sure you'll be easily recalled when decisions about graduate job offers are being made, but don't have so much fun that you're remembered for all the wrong reasons!

8. Keep a record

Jot down details of the projects you work on, your contributions, and how you're developing. This record will be invaluable when you're next writing a CV or cover letter, and can also be a useful memory-jogger for anyone at the organisation you ask to write a reference for you.

Also, keep track of any feedback you receive so you can improve your performance as you go along, and continue to implement what you've learnt after the end of your internship.

9. Evaluate them

Don't forget that an internship is your chance to decide what you think about the organisation, roles within it, and the industry as a whole.

Deciding that a job or firm isn't for you is a useful outcome, especially if it helps you locate something that's a better fit.

10. Follow up

Getting career benefits from your internship doesn't end on your last day in the office. You may well be in line for a graduate job and, even if that doesn't work out, you're sure to have made some useful connections.

So stay in touch with your contacts in human resources and anyone you got on well with, including fellow interns, as they may well be able to help you as you progress in your career.

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