If you are looking to start your career or wanting to try out something new, internship can be a great way to find out if the work is something you want to do. When I graduated from university, I was on the crossroad whether to go through the degree route or try out different career altogether and internship gave me an insight to do that. I interned at two places, completely different to what I graduated in ( I graduated with an information system degree). The first place I interned was an online fashion boutique as a fashion admin intern with responsibilities such as managing product data, photographing, ironing and so on. The second place was in Bratislava, Slovakia with an European work program, and I interned as a Marketing intern for an online software company. I was responsible for market research and presentation. Two complete different roles but I learned a lot and they gave me the options to look into an industry which I wouldn’t have got into without the experiences I gained there. If you are going for an internship or starting work as they can be applicable to any entry role, here are 5 tips I learned:
1>Ask questions: Internship are a way to learn about the industry, the work, the career it can provide and so on. Don’t be afraid to ask the most basic questions because as I learn, they can teach you a lot. The work can be menial, you would be asked to do almost anything from getting coffee, ironing, data entry, researching and so on but I think these are the jobs that teach you what to expect.
2>Be professional: Yes, you don’t get paid for the hours you put but that doesn’t mean you can turn up to work late or do a sloppy job. Put your 100% on any jobs they give you, if they want you do something again and again, just do it. Do the best in any work and the hard work will definitely pay off. If you are doing your best, they are more likely to recommend you to others or a full time job at the end of it.
3>Make connection: This is the one thing I regret not doing properly. Internship can be a hub to network with loads of people from different professional backgrounds. Ask for their contact because you’ll never know when you are gonna need it. Going back to tip number 1, ask questions- ask people what they do, how they got to where they are, ask them what they enjoy about their work – just ask, everyone likes talking about themselves, so don’t feel shy (like I did) but also make sure to keep in touch with your contacts.
4>Manage your expenses: Most internship do reimburse you for travel and lunch but for any other expenses, you need to manage it on your own. My internship were paid travel but I had saved up by working part time during my holidays to pay for my other expenses, so do have kind of income to fall back to if there are other expenses to be covered. Be mindful to keep all travel receipts and any other receipt that you think the company can reimburse you with.
5>Aim for an end goal: What do you want at the end of the internship? A job at the company? or do you want to apply somewhere else? If you want a job in the same company, then you need to have the talk with your manager in the beginning of your last month – so you know what to expect, if they are not looking to hire anyone, then you can start to look elsewhere but companies do let you know if they want to keep you on. If you move on, don’t forget to get references/ recommendations & a way to to contact them. It’s good to have that network for your career.
Hope the above tips are useful to start on your internship or your first job. Let me know if you have any other tips that was helpful to you in your career.