Five ideas to make the best of your internship

Internship is the first exposure to work for many young persons. They enter an organization to learn, to gain experience and enhance their career prospects. Unfortunately internship does not always go well. Interns get frustrated due a number of reasons: lack of clarity in what they are supposed to do; not doing substantial work and being reduced to just another helping hand; supervisor not giving enough time or guidance etc.

Here are 5 ideas that might help:

1. Spend time knowing about the organization particularly in the first week
Read as much as possible and interact with people. Get to know the organization’s vision and work. The first week is ideal for this as interns usually go through an induction, and specific work is not yet assigned. As time passes, it often becomes difficult to spend time on this.

2. Seek clarity on what you are expected to do
Generally there is an agreed ‘Terms of Reference’ but often it is too broad and specifics are not defined. This creates confusion and causes problems. Have meetings with your supervisor and seek clarity on what is expected of you. Make sure to have regular meetings with your supervisor and agree on deliverables as your work may change from time to time.

3. Connect the dots and develop a broader perspective
Understand how your work is connected to the work of your team and the overall scheme of things. Interact with colleagues from other teams and appreciate how different departments work together to contribute to the organizational goal(s). Earlier you understand the importance of inter-dependence and team work, the better it is.

4. Learn and enhance Skills
Make the best of all learning opportunities. You may learn how to develop and execute strategies and plans, organize meetings, workshops or events, training etc. You can also learn how organizational processes are organized. Remember no task is small. Even if you learn how to write minutes of a meeting, it is going to help you forever.

5. Identify role models and mentors
Observe your colleagues. What makes them successful? What do they do differently? You may find role models and mentors. Learn from them and keep in touch with them even after the internship is over. This contact will help you at different stages of your career.

Before I end, I must add that it is also the responsibility of supervisors to ensure that internship is a good experience for interns.

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4 Responses to Five ideas to make the best of your internship

  1. abriyasultan says:

    How I wish, I could’ve come across this mini guide book at the time of my internships! Awesome 5 things which I agree would make the experience of internships all together. There were times when I use to feel as if I was ‘nobody’ out there and was clueless as to what I had to do next!

  2. Amrita Dass says:

    Very useful guidelines, Afsar. You have put them across so succinctly. I am sure many interns will value these insights. Do circulate them to supervisors of interns as well!

    A few more thoughts..

    Taking initiatives whenever possible and being resourceful would also develop one’s capacity. Making a daily note of lessons learnt will reinforce them.

  3. Indrani says:

    Very valuable tips indeed, Internship is the time for assimilation of knowledge and learning new skills. The intern should be a good observer and listener more than a good speaker at this stage. Never say no to a new responsibility even if it is not in your usual terms of reference. The experience gained would be a lifelong asset. It is also good to read as much as possible about the organisation including criticism or negative publicity etc. to have a better understanding of the work culture,

  4. Mohd Nayyar Afaque says:

    “no task is small” is a great thought.
    Thanks for giving us insight. it is equally useful for the interns and guide.

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