USE YOUR LUNCH HOUR WISELY AND DON’T BRING CAKE ON YOUR LAST DAY
When you’re starting an internship, there’s a lot to think about.
But smart graduates know that being polite, punctual and memorising everyone’s name (and tea order) are just the basics. In today’s tough job market, if you want to be considered for a permanent position at the end of your internship (or to at least be ‘thought of’ when one comes up in the future), you need to do much more.
Unfortunately, interns who are keen to stand out can sometimes be remembered for the wrong reasons. There’s a fine line between eager and desperate (or pushy) — and getting it wrong may accidentally reveal your inexperience (eek).
So, how exactly do you impress an employer during your internship? Cary Curtis, founder of graduate recruitment agency Give A Grad A Go (who regularly speaks to bosses about what they look for in graduate hires), shares his advice…
DO make a low-key entrance. “Often, graduates are so desperate to make an impression that they want to dazzle from the minute they arrive, or do things at warp speed to prove their efficiency,” says Cary. “My advice? Resist this urge. Take at least two days to suss out what’s what and who’s who. Listen and learn. And don’t rush the tasks you’re given. Do them swiftly, but do them well.”
DO spot ways to make a difference. “Once you’ve found your feet, start looking for small, simple ways you can leave your mark on the business,” Cary advises. “For example, is there a way the company could be storing information better? Or could they switch to a more efficient system of working? It doesn’t have to be a big change, something as simple as creating a new spreadsheet can make a big difference to how a business performs. Implementing something new will highlight you as someone who is resourceful and worth investing in. Just make sure you check with your supervisor before you start, by asking, ‘Would it be helpful if I…’?”
DO seek out stress. “When you observe the team, see if you can identify your colleagues’ biggest work pressures,” suggests Cary. “Is there anything you can do to help them? For example, you could offer an extra pair of eyes for proof reading, or offer to spend some time doing research on an upcoming project. The key is to anticipate what their pressures may be before they arise. By using your initiative to put yourself in the shoes of your colleagues, you’ll prove yourself to be a very worthwhile asset.”
DO use your lunch hour wisely. “Interns who wander around the shops for 60 minutes every day are missing a golden opportunity,” says Cary. “Everyone needs to eat, so why not take the time to identify key areas of the business you’d like to know more about, and approach the person responsible to see if they’re free to talk to you a bit more about what they do?” Most people will be pleased to be asked, as long as you approach them in the right way. “Always lead with the reason for wanting to meet them,” says Cary. “Are you curious to discuss a recent article they wrote? Or after some advice on finding success in the industry? Whatever the reason may be, just remember to do your research beforehand; they’re giving up their time to meet with you, so show you’re worth the investment by showing up prepared. If you impress them, it’s a great way of ensuring you’re one of the first people that come to mind if any roles come up within their team.”
DON’T bring in cakes on the last day. “Writing a review of your time is a much stronger way to wrap up your internship — and it’s something few graduates think to do,” says Cary. “Type up a short summary about your time at the company — including what you’ve learnt, achieved and enjoyed. Then email it to the PR and HR teams, cc’ing your supervisor, saying you thought it might be useful for promoting the company to new hires. You could even try sending it through to industry specific blog sites as a way of getting your name ‘out there’ to other employers.”
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*GOT ANY TIPS OF YOUR OWN TO ADD?
Done a few internships? Tell us what you’ve learned about making a good impression. Also, has anyone made any big mistakes? Share your stories below, to spare others the same regrets!