If you are a student and looking for a full time job, internships can seem like exactly what are you aren’t looking for: temporary and unsalaried. But these are the exact factors that students and recent graduate can use to their advantage to build their career.
Try on an industry
It is easier and lower risk for a company to accept an intern than a full time employee. Likewise, an intern can start within a particular company and learn whether or not it is what they would like to pursue, without having to worry about abandoning an employment contract. Regardless of what someone studied, if an internship candidate shows enthusiasm for a company then they are immediately more likely to be taken on board. For those thinking about pursuing an internship, first look for companies and industries that strike you as interesting. Internships will give experience that widens ones background beyond what their university major. If you have a no experience in an industry and did not study the relevant course in school, an internship is the foot in the door you need to start building that background. Start with enthusiasm and a time commitment. A 6 month internship could be the beginning of a whole new career.
Use Initiative to Cultivate Project Management Skills
The biggest asset an intern as is their own initiative. Instead of simply looking at an internship as doing tasks assigned by a permanent member of staff, approach it as an opportunity to launch your own project under the company’s umbrella. Find an area of the company that interests you, this could be within their operations, clients, marketing etc. and as you investigate, start gathering ideas. Notice something that could be made more efficient? Have an idea for a marketing initiative that could improve business? Own it! Don’t just mention it under your breath to your manager. Develop a proposal of the project including: what it is, what the goals are, how it connects to the business and what tools you may need to get started. Then ask your manager for five minutes of their time and pitch them the project. Worried that you will get shut down? More likely, your manager will be thrilled at your initiative and ask for an update after you get the ball rolling. Congratulations, you have just launched your first project where you can start measuring your real individual contribution to a company.
One of the best things about an internship is that you are right in the middle of industry and surrounded by people who know more about it. Take every opportunity to talk to everyone you meet. Share about yourself, your background and most importantly ask questions. People are happy to share their experiences and expertise, particularly with interested young people. Capitalize on this to learn more about the industry and the types of jobs in it. Join relevant groups for your internship industry on LinkedIn as well as Chamber of Commerces. If an event pops up that looks relevant for you or your internship company, let your manager know. Even if they cannot attend, offer do to so. Bring along your boss’s business cards and get to know players in the industry. By networking on behalf of the company as well as sharing what you are contributing to the company, you showcase your initiative that you are a team player and your availability for other projects after your internships ends.
Learn How Work Works.
Life in university is quite different from the private sector. As many students discover after they graduate, daily life of working in something like marketing, is quite different from the daily life of studying marketing. Use your internship as the opportunity to learn the realities of how companies work. This includes the daily flows of work in an industry, the different pressures (that may or may not be related to the job itself) and getting a feel for life inside and outside an office. If you are applying for a white collar position after you graduate, that is a position that requires revolved around an office, one of the strongest things you can have in your experience is previous office experience. It may sound mundane but being previously “office broken” lets an employer know that they won’t need to teach you the etiquette of email or how to use the company copier.
It’s Up to You
Ultimately, how much you do in your internship boils down do your own desire to use the opportunity to its full potential. Don’t wait for someone else to guide you through your career. From the moment you apply for a position, begin to take ownership of the impact you wish to have and make the internship your own.
Article written by Morgan Dolan | Zhuhai Office Manager