After sending tons of applications and going through rounds of interview, you have finally landed yourself an internship. You were ecstatic and couldn’t wait to get started, but the excitement didn’t last very long. The first few weeks of your internship experience were nothing like you imagined. The job is all about mundane tasks, unreasonable hours, lack of training or support, unfriendly co-workers etc; not to mention your pay (if any) is so minimal that it’s not even worth the nightmares you’re having. You are so frustrated to the point that you have to dread yourself to work everyday.
But you’re not alone. In fact, many professionals have indicated that they have had bad jobs or internship experiences. Instead of focusing on the negatives, there are ways to turn your internship experience around into a positive one.
1. Make Suggestions
Sometimes, employees are too busy with their regular work, and they don’t have time to figure out how to better handle the mundane tasks. Instead of spending your entire summer being a file clerk, make suggestions or even create a solution to help eliminate the manual work. You may talk to the employees and try to understand why the work is being done this way. Many of the manual tasks can be automated using existing software such as Excel and Access or utilizing web tools. Explore the technology, develop a solution, and your employer will be impressed by your efforts while you can save yourself some pain. It is a win-win situation.
2. Create a Learning Plan with Your Supervisor
Some big companies structure their internship programs in a standardized way that all interns know exactly what they will be doing during their terms. But other companies who don’t have that kind of resources might simply assign whatever tasks they can think of on the interns’ first day of work. If you’re one of the second ones, there will be more effort on your part to make your internship more valuable. You should create a list of things you want to learn during your internship and discuss the list with your supervisor. Shadow your co-workers and request to sit in on certain meetings to get some real-world exposures and enhance your internship experience.
3. Take Ownership of Projects or Tasks
Don’t hold back on your responsibility just because you consider yourself to be the lowest ranked employee. Choose some tasks that you’re confident about and volunteer to take ownership of those tasks. Your future jobs will most likely require some levels of project management skills, and your internship is an excellent opportunity to start obtaining those skills. Providing regular updates to your supervisor and asking for directions when problems arise will ensure that you are on track to a successful completion.
4. Take Advantage of Networking Opportunities
If you follow the previous suggestions, you probably have already left a pretty good impression on your employer. One of the most valuable gains from an internship is future reference because your future employers will most likely ask for it. A good reference is often built upon a good relationship. Even if you would rather spend your time hanging out with your friends or getting another hour of sleep, take advantage of the networking opportunities and participate in company events. Many personal relationships are developed at these events, and strong relationships will be beneficial in helping your future career.
Getting the Most Out of Your Internship Experience
Getting an internship is more than a nice addition on your resume. It is a valuable opportunity to develop your skills to be a diligent employee and create professional connections, which could open many doors for you in the future. Even if your internship experience does not turn out to be what you expected, remember it is just temporary. Try to make the most out of your experience by following these tips, and you might be surprised how much you can turn it around.
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