10 Lessons Every Intern Will Learn About Their Career and Life

Internships can be a huge learning curve for recent graduates and they’re a great way to set you up for your future career. If you’re still unsure about what path you’d like to take or the industry you want to enter requires a bit more hands on experience, an internship can be a brilliant way to develop new skills and gain a bit of an insight into what it’s like to work in that sector.

You’ll learn a lot of things as an intern about your career and life in general, for example…

1) Don’t expect a gold star for good work

If you’re performing well in your job and putting your full effort in, your hard work will be recognised in the long run; however you have to learn that you won’t receive praise for every little task you complete. It doesn’t mean you’re not doing well, it’s just that people are busy with their own work. Self-motivation is key to career success, rather than relying on others pushing you along.

2) Don’t be a sour grape

A positive attitude will get you a lot further than a negative one. Not only will people warm to you more, which makes work a lot more pleasant; but approaching tasks with a driven and optimistic mindset will boost your confidence and make the job much more enjoyable.

3) Network, network, network!

You hear it all the time about the importance of networking, but it’s true so I’m going to tell you again! It’s never too early to start building your professional network, so make the most of your internships and build some valuable contacts while you’re there, in more senior positions as well as those at your career level. You never know when someone you know may be able to assist you in your job hunt or even become a future business prospect.

4) Keep in touch

Once you have completed your internship, put the effort in to maintaining the relationships you built during your time there. Connect with people on LinkedIn and drop them a line from time to time to remind them that you’re there.

5) Be punctual

Punctuality is incredibly important. I really won’t reflect on you well if you turn up later to work on a regular basis or struggle to meet deadlines. If time management is something that you struggle with, now is your time to work on it.

6) Be an eager beaver

There’s a difference between being that annoying intern who sucks up to everyone in the office and showing a bit of enthusiasm in your work. Showing that you are passionate about the industry and really appreciate the opportunity you have been given will put you in good stead with the boss and will make a lasting impression that could benefit you in the future when it comes to asking for a reference.

7) Love learning

Ask lots of questions and take plenty of notes. An internship is a learning opportunity, so make the most of it by getting involved in projects where you can, learning a bit about how the business runs, practicing using new tools, etc.

8) Don’t begrudge the boring work

As an intern, it’s likely that you may be lumbered with the slightly dull tasks that no one really wants to do, for example filing, basic admin…and of course the coffee run. Everyone has to start somewhere though, so try to embrace these tasks and gain from them what you can.

9) Assess your plans

If you don’t enjoy your internship, it could be a good indication that it’s not the industry for you. This is a good opportunity to gage whether it’s a path that you really want to follow before taking on a permanent position.

10) Enjoy yourself

Internships can be a lot of fun, so relax, get to know the team and enjoy yourself!

Image: Shutterstock

By Sophie Deering