One step above student, but not quite an employee, the role of the intern can be intimidating and challenging. Thrown into the deep end that is work experience, you face the possible tests of learning and remembering people’s names, proving your worth, doing the tasks that no one else wants to do, and working for little to nothing. Add in the pressure of trying to get a job at the end of the internship and the picture is complete. So how do you do turn work experience into employment? Really, it comes down to how you are perceived in the workplace. Read on to discover just how to tip the scales in your favour; your dream job awaits you with open arms.
Let’s get things straight. A positive attitude can take you places in life. This is not a hyped-up, sentimental myth, it’s a lesson that can be applied in both personal and professional pursuits. Start practising in your internship. In fact, practise your heart out. Impress co-workers and managers with how enthusiastic, cheery, grateful and humble you are. Been asked to overhaul the filing system? Make a joke and do it with sincere eagerness, because chances are that you have the valuable internship hundreds of others applied for.
One of the basic features that employers look for in desirable employees is a strong-as-steel work ethic. This doesn’t mean that you should stay behind two hours every night or work on the weekend. Instead, gauge what the standard working conditions are and mimic them. Don’t rush out the door as soon as the clock hits five o’clock. Ideally, you want to be regarded as a very helpful or even indispensable member of the time; don’t give them a choice when it comes to employing you!
So they’ve seen that you are upbeat and conscientious, but do they know how proactive you are? An internship is not the time to be a wallflower. Show how engaged and committed you are by asking for feedback regularly, setting up meetings and participating in group discussions. The flipside of this is being careful that you are not asserting your presence in an arrogant or excessive way. Again, it’s all about perception.
Another way of leaving an impression on co-workers and potential employers is to showcase your personality. Before you do this, however, take the time to observe and understand the culture and structure of the workplace. You will then be able to distinguish what would and wouldn’t be appropriate and reveal the interests, hobbies, tastes and quirks that will allow you to bond quickly with others. Remember, once you say or do something, you cannot undo it.
There are many online resources available to inspire and prepare you for your internship. Recruitment companies such as Just Digital People and Digital Gurus have blogs full of ideas, while job seeking websites also have pages dedicated to helping those looking for employment. If you have any tips or stories to share, please comment in the section below.