Being an intern can sound like a thankless task – doing the hard work for little or no pay. But there’s plenty you can learn from your stint on the bottom rung of the career ladder.
Interns can get a hard time of it – little to no pay, often looked down upon by the office, and made to do the jobs no one else wants. But for some industries, an internship can be a vital step in progressing your career.
You’ve got to make the most of these tough times. Here are a few things you can learn from being an intern…
You could have the best grades in your class, but these days that might not be enough.
Showing you’ve actively sought to boost your experience in the industry is not only vital for your CV, but also in preparing you for life in the working world.
Anyone taking you on as an intern should realise that you have little workplace experience and so will hopefully cut you some slack. It’ll also help to ease you into the working world. This is vital for learning how the workplace is run – from office politics to general tasks like answering the phone.
It’s not just what you do while being an intern, but who you meet. This is the chance to connect with people in your industry whom you may not have met otherwise.
You’ll learn fast that making your way in most industries is partly down to hard work, but also down to knowing the right people.
If you make a good impression as an intern, you’ll instantly have a reference for your next job. Someone at the company might also know of someone who’s looking to hire. These roles might not go onto jobs websites and so could be missed if you’re not connecting with people.
Knowing which direction to take
You’d dreamt of being an architect your whole life, but a summer spent as an intern showed you the reality is very different from what you imagined.
On a day-to-day basis, jobs can be everything from repetitive and boring to intense and varied – but you’ll only find out once you’ve tried it.
But remember, doing an internship in one industry shouldn’t mean you have to continue down that career path. You’re still young – now is the perfect time to switch careers if you don’t feel like this is for you.
Or if it is the industry for you, an internship can help you decide which specific role you’d like. While working as an intern, ask if you could shadow a variety of roles to give you a better idea of the path you might take.
Standing up to people
It’s hard being the lowest person in the office, especially if you get the boss from hell or an annoying line manager. But being an intern doesn’t mean you have to take it all lying down.
Part and parcel of the business world is learning to stand up for yourself – to argue your point clearly and calmly, and to know when to say no.
Even CEOs are asked to do things they don’t want to do – but they know when and how to turn down such requests. As an intern, establish early what your role entails, who in the company can ask you to do things, and how much free time you have in a day.
If someone you don’t know asks you to work late or help on a project, learn to say no. Or at least to say you’ll get back to them after you’ve checked your workload.
The value of a salary
Interns don’t get paid a lot. Some don’t get paid at all if it’s only a short-term appointment. And while this isn’t great, it’ll give you a little insight into your actual worth in the workplace.
If you slip comfortably into a job and are able to do the tasks of the office junior, it shows that you should be getting paid the same as them.
Also, by living without a decent salary for a few months, you’ll learn how to budget and get by on the basics. Once that fully-paid role comes along, you’ll be better able to manage your money.
Posted by the Secret Businessman