How to Get the Most Out of Your Internship
By Brandon Miller
Monster Generation Y Contributing Writer
Back in graduate school, I landed four internships and they were some of the best career moments that I have had to date. Knowing there was no space to get hired when I went in for the job, I spent my intern moments trying to solidify my skills, asking lots of questions and taking on every possible task imaginable. I wanted to be remembered. I wanted to be helpful. And, let’s be honest, I wanted letters of recommendation.
There are countless benefits to interning, but it’s important that you know what you are getting into beforehand. Here are some insights on how to get the most out of your placement.
What type of internship is this, exactly?
What are you expecting to gain from your internship? This is a question you have to ask yourself before you go in for the job.
“There are two kinds of internships,” says Sharon Irwin-Foulon, the Director of Career Management at The Richard Ivey School of Business at The University of Western Ontario. “There’s the kind of internship where you hope that it will turn into a permanent job, and there’s the type of internship where you are there to help the organization and to get experience and strengthen your skill set.”
Get noticed – the right way.
It’s crucial that you get noticed as an intern. At most, you’ll get a job offer. At least, you can walk out of there with a few referrals, a network and some letters of recommendation. That said, you want to be noticed for the right reasons - being a hard worker, taking initiative, completing tasks quickly and efficiently. “Don’t get noticed because you were out at the bar on a Thursday night before work,” Irwin-Foulon cautions. “(That) tends to be the summer lifestyle sometimes.”
Ask for honest feedback
If you are not hired on for a full-time job (and you expected you would be), don’t be scared to ask for constructive criticism. There are likely reasons why you failed to impress and it is important that you know these issues so that you can improve upon them. Even if you do get a job offer, it never hurts to ask if there are any areas you can improve upon.
Before you jump head-first into the pool of critical warfare, make sure you prepare yourself for some realistic pointers and analysis. “You have to let go of your perfectionist tendencies when you are asking for feedback,” Irwin-Foulon says.
Three takeaway tips to remember:
- If you are doing the type of internship where you expect that you could be hired by a global institution, it’s typical to wait until two weeks before the end of your placement to ask about a job. If they want you badly enough, they will make an offer, anyway.
- When looking for an internship, don’t be scared to cold-call companies. “I am a big believer that 70 percent of jobs are found through networking,” Irwin-Foulon says.
- Do not be pressured to sign a contract. Many larger companies will ask you to sign off on an offer within a week or two. If you don’t feel that it’s the natural fit, do not hesitate shop around for a position that feels right.