I can still remember the first day of my internship as if it was yesterday. I believe that irrespectively of how far you have already come in your career, you will never forget how you started out as an intern and the amazing experiences you had during that time. They form life lessons that you will always take with you. There are especially five lessons that have stayed with me and have helped to shape & are still shaping the young professional I am today. The time has come to reveal them.
Develop business acumen
The moment you finished school and you thought the learning is no longer required, the learning process actually just has started. One of the most important things that schoolbooks do not teach anyone about is business acumen. It is the ability to understand and decide on a business situation. An internship is there to both help you develop good business sense and bridge learnt theory with real-life business experiences.
Shine through your work
An internship provides you a more comfortable surrounding to learn and experiment than a full-time job. Make good use of this by trying to go beyond what is written on the job description and pushing boundaries. Bring new initiatives on the table & initiate small projects and hold yourself accountable for them. Not only is this an effective way to develop yourself professionally, but you will also make a lasting impression on colleagues and stakeholders. This can lead to future possibilities within the company.
Discover what kind of person you are in the workplace
As you do not have any previous working experience, it is not strange that you do not know what person you really are in the workplace. This is where internships come in handy. By being an intern you are given situations and resources that enable you to find out what qualities and points of improvements you have as worker. You come to know what your work style is. Also, you will find out how you cope with certain circumstances & unexpected occurrences at your work. Based on this informal self-assessment, you can look for ways to improve and fine-tune your work behaviour.
How to timely tap in opportunities
An essential difference between school and work is that the latter asks you to timely respond and act on the latest opportunities. While at school it will not harm that much if you miss a deadline or do things last-minute, in the professional world not responding on trends can lead to a competitive disadvantage. An internship let you both familiarise with this and practice on making well-considered decisions by trading off potential risks and benefits.
Get closer to where your passion lies
Regardless of whether the internship turns out to be a perfect fit or a total disaster, it always brings you closer to your career aspiration. If the former is the case, you can either try to turn your internship into a full-time job or see if the contacts you have made can help you land a job elsewhere in the industry. In the latter case, even if the internship is a total mismatch with your interests or passion, it still brings you closer to your desirable destination in the sense that you now know what you absolutely do not want. This is an equally valuable lesson as learning about what you do want to do.
What are the major lessons your learned during your internship? I’d love to continue this conversation in the comments below.
Until next time!