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Making the Most Out of Your Internship

Published on Tuesday, 28 Apr 2015

Being the Recruitment Director at the Mountbatten Institute for the past four years, I’ve seen my fair share of interns come and go through our one year traineeship programmes. Here’s my contribution to what I’ve observed from our more successful trainees.

Internships are perhaps one of the most sought after roles by students and fresh graduates as one tries to gain as much work experience as possible with the hope that this will make your CV more substantial and hence more attractive to employers. What one should realize is that internships should not be taken for granted. Although it is true that most employers use internships to help fill a temporary void in their companies, they also use it as a way to gauge a person’s performance, their potential and their employability. Anyone who shines during an internship stint will usually be offered a permanent role within the company if there is an appropriate opening.

Here are some tips on making the most of your internship:

1. Ask Questions
Most interns fear asking questions for fear of looking like they don’t know what they are doing. You can and should ask as many questions as you need to but be sure that they’re smart and relevant questions to the job/assignment. You are after all the intern. No one expects you to know everything and this is why employers expect you to ask questions. The reason why some employers don’t give interns very much responsibility is because they fear that interns can be holding onto a time bomb because they are afraid to ask questions and could therefore botch up a task because of this fact. Therefore ask questions. You’re there to learn and you are expected to ask questions.

2. Set Objectives
The best way to determine whether your internship was a success or not is to set a target for yourself. Decide what you want to learn in terms of skills and knowledge. Also find an opportunity to discuss your objectives with your supervisor. Most employers are more than happy to help you accomplish your objectives and are usually impressed if someone shows ambition and determination to succeed.

3. Ask for More Responsibility
Another way to impress, in follow-up to the above point, is to ask to do more. Most employers or bosses are more than happy to assign you more work, especially if you want it. This is one way to demonstrate your skills and potential to any employer. Taking initiative this way always impresses employers.

4. Ask for an Assessment
About 2 weeks or so before your internship ends, always ask your employer politely for a little of their time to assess your performance. This reminds them that your internship is about to end and also gives you the opportunity to seek their guidance on what other types of skills and knowledge you should try to obtain. It is also your opportunity to ask that key question; whether there is an opening that you could help fill either part-time or full-time.

In closing, treat all your internships like you’re part of a management trainee programme. This is because in most cases, the internship is a management trainee programme even though most employers won’t admit to it. Your brief time at the company gives employers the opportunity to observe and assess your potential. An outstanding performer is usually rewarded with a full-time offer at the end of the programme. Therefore be sure to do your best at any internship placement. It’s your foot in the door, you never know where it could lead.

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