During your summer break, when classes start or throughout the school year, any time of the year is good to do an internship. You can combine your studies with an internship to gain work experience, improve your résumé and, as a result, advance your professional career.
However, internships are more than this. You should take full advantage of the possibilities offered by hundreds of companies to be one of their employees for a few months. But, do you really know to get the most out of your experience?
Here are the OIE’s 10 tips on how to make the most of your work experience:
- Be observant. Pay close attention to how the other employees work. This will not only help you to do the job that you have been assigned, but it will also allow you to clear up any initial doubts you may have about what is expected.
- Get involved. Show that you are professional and that you’re committed to doing your best at the job you’ve been given. And avoid the common mistake of taking things for granted.
- Deal with any problems that may arise and find solutions. If you’re able to solve the small problems that you may have in your day to day, your boss will value it highly in the future. But before making any decision, be sure to stop and evaluate all your possible options.
- Ask questions. Curiosity is key to soaking up all the information that you can about the department, company or your role. Remember: the internship lasts only a few months and your peers are the best source of information. Take advantage of this and ask questions about everything you don’t know or have doubts about.
- Show that you want to work. During the internship, be proactive, show initiative and do not put off the tasks that you are assigned.
- Be part of the team. Collaborate whenever you can with your team members or with co-workers in other departments. This is the best way to learn a profession. Don’t forget this!
- Pay attention to your personal appearance. Each company has its own dress code. Find out what it is and try to adhere to it.
- Be sociable. Look for opportunities to meet people, such as during lunch or at activities for employees. It is the perfect time to meet people that share the same professional interests and you can make valuable contacts that will help you in the future to find your first job.
- Be punctual. Do not arrive late to work or meetings that you have to attend. And, of course, be sure to get your work in before the deadline.
- Near the end of your internship, ask your boss for a letter of recommendation which highlights the positive aspects that he or she has observed in your performance during the period you have been working with them.