17/52: Career Wise- 5 tips for an Internship

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:

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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.

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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.

 

10/52: 3 Sites I Use to Learn Online

Entering the workplace doesn’t mean that you stop learning. Everyday is a learning experience but as time goes by, the thing you do everyday becomes second nature and you have to challenge yourself with new skills. I have been using quite a few sites in recent years to learn something new for work or for personal use and most of them are free (you have to pay for the certificate). Here are the three sites I use regularly, I’ll do a pro(o) and con(x) for each, let me know if you have used them or use something else as its great to know.

A little career background about me, I work in e-commerce so I mostly look for digital or retail skills that I can use at work but I do veer towards something personal like learning about nutrition or languages. My advice is to learn something you have an interest because all this online course have to be done on your own time and if you have no passion for it, then you are unlikely to continue it.

Future Learn

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This is a great site to learn from top universities and specialist organisation, there are about 250 courses to choose from loads of categories such as business & management, digital, language, social, arts, history and so on.

(o) They have different courses to suit anyone whether you are improving your skills or learning a new one.
(o) Courses are given through videos or articles and its a community based learning, so you can comment and get feedback from other people learning with you or course mentor.
(o) Note that the courses have specified start date but you can choose to start right away or register for later ones – they will send you an email reminder to say that your course is starting
(o) I have only used this to learn certain courses but there are programs where you can complete a set of courses but this does cost a fair amount, you can even get a degree but please research this.
(o) You can track your progress week by week as seen below for my managing the money course.

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(x) Some courses are available for limited time only so you should time manage properly if you want to learn everything on it
(x) It is free but you do have to pay for the test to get an online certificate (usually about £42). Certificates are good as you can show that you are learning consistently to potential employers- this can be added to your LinkedIn profile but you can forgo this if you are on a tight budget.
(x) To earn a certificate, you have to get about 70% or above on all the tests – the test is fairly easy if you go through the lessons thoroughly.

Alison

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Alison is similar to FutureLearn but there are a lot of courses offered which you can get an Alison diploma or a certificate.

(o) There are plenty of courses to choose from, it all depends on what you want to learn.
(o) All the courses are self-paced so you can learn at your own time, there is progress tracking.

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(x) As with most learning sites, you do have to pay for the certificate after you complete a course and this would vary depending on the course or the certificate you choose. Please go to the pricing here.
(x) There are ads dotted around the website, which some might find it annoying but its how the site can earn revenue, you can also pay to have it removed but the ads are not much of a hindrance.

Google Digital Academy

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Google Digital Academy is a great place to learn about how things work online- there are loads of topic to learn from on how to use google analytics to creating an online strategy. I have only used it to learn Google Analytics for work but I am currently working towards gaining a certificate – so will update this on how it goes.

(o) I love the interface, all the topics are presented through videos.
(o) You can track your progress visually and there are quizzes throughout to test your knowledge.

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Along with these sites, there are plenty of sites where you can subscribe for a fixed monthly amount such as udemy, lynda or on LinkedIn. Some people would prefer to pay coz this would give them the drive to keep on learning but overall, you should know that you are doing this for yourself and learning should be fun.