As you slave away with exams, stuff that doesn’t make sense, knowledge you know you’re never going to use and school tuition you know you’ll be paying off for a while (unless you’re lucky and have parental support), know that all hope isn’t lost. Maybe there will be a time that degree will actually pay off (que angels singing music). It might all work out especially if you’re ambitious and put in the effort to get some experience.
One of the best ways to get experience is through an internship. If you’re lucky, it’s a requirement in your program or you’ve joined the co-op program. If not, you have to find that work experience on your own. Either way, here are some dos and don’ts (seriously, read it).
- Do reach out via email or phone to introduce yourself and ask about internship opportunities.
- Do set goals for yourself and what you would like to achieve during the internship.
- Don’t think you’re above making coffee because “that’s not what I went to school for”. Even the boss makes coffee or steps up when need be. Heck, I even change the toilet paper roll. You aren’t above “petty” tasks. It’s part of the office culture for everyone.
- Do engage with co-workers. Yes, you’re only there for a short period of time but you’re part of the team. Eat lunch together, have a conversation, engage! It’ll help you at the end of the day and leave everyone with a good impression.
- Don’t take personal calls all day. Yes, we all have significant others, parents, siblings and friends who might be calling for a reason but if you’re taking a personal call, step out. It’s a private call and you don’t really want everyone to hear about your vacation plans (it’ll make them jealous).
- Do ask questions. The employer knows it’s an internship and everyone wants you to absorb as much as you can so ask!
- Do listen to feedback. This one is important. It’s for your own good. If we give constructive criticism, take it. It’ll help you down the road. Plus, it shows you are capable of taking some constructive criticism and making changes.
- Don’t leave work early or without telling anyone. Just because it’s an internship doesn’t mean it’s a free for all, “I can do whatever I want”. At the end of the day, you’re still part of the team. If an employee did that, well, there would be some talking to.
- Take initiative, show off your talent and make yourself indispensable.
- At the end of the day, an internship is a job application. If you want a job at the company, you want to follow some of the rules above. Trust me, the boss is watching.
And if you get the job at the end, great! If you don’t, well, you still have a great reference for the job you want to land. Happy Interning!