WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IF YOU WANT TO START AN INTERNSHIP

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I recently had a discussion with a colleague on the challenges some interns face in the workplace and that’s what inspired me to write this with the hope that someone out there who is currently undergoing an internship or wants to start at a new place will learn something new. Throughout my official career, I have undergone internship in 5 different places so you can conclude that I have a lot of internship experience. In fact, the current company I work with, I started as an intern.

I know that there are two categories of Interns: 1. The Undergraduates 2. The Graduates this article addresses both categories.

  1. Have a Plan

Most interns join a company with the intention to learn a lot in terms of their chosen career path without fully having a well-drawn out plan of what their goals, visions whilst attaching a milestone to it. The truth is that most companies have their own structure and human resources plans already and if you are not fully prepared or if your vision and goals are not clearly stated, there is a high probability that you will get lost with the organizations activities and not achieve what you really wanted.

  1. Don’t get distracted

Sometimes, activities and engagement in the workplace doesn’t mean that you have improved yourself. If you decide to just move with the flow of the organization, you may not make an impact in the organization (meaning even if you leave the organization, people may not remember any special thing you have done and the worst is that if you’re a graduate intern looking to be employed, they may not see any need because in this economic time where they can get another intern to do exactly what you do, they may not see any reason to promote you to a full staff).

  1. Work towards being relevant

I’m not advising you that you should come into an organization with your rigid plans but proper direction will guide you in making important steps during your internship, I remember when I got an internship opportunity during my SIWES, the lady that helped me get that opportunity and who had also interned with the same company gave me one big advice that I can never forget and which I have followed in other opportunities. She said “Yewande, the truth about this company is that they would most likely just dump you in one place and you won’t learn all this things you want but you just have to make efforts to be in their face and put yourself in their work so that they can accommodate you and that way you will be able to take something back after your 6months’ (rephrased). To be sincere with you, I didn’t take that advice seriously until I realized that after 1 whole month, I was literally just useless there. All I did was checking Lindas blog, facebook e.t.c…. After that month, I learnt my lesson and I started moving round all the departments to ask for work that could be given to me, I was always disturbing HR and all the HOD’s. The planned effort is what made them take me to Business development for a week and then HR (as a Chemical Engineering Student because Engineering couldn’t accommodate me). I’m sure if I was more determined to the engineering department, they would have absorbed me but by the time they were ready for me, the HR Manager wasn’t willing to let me go.

The truth is that most full staff of the company have their own busy schedule and KPI’s and if coaching an intern doesn’t improve their KPI, then you’re probably a second option (not a priority). Your ability to make yourself relevant despite all odds will determine how successful your internship was or if you will be made an offer.

Final thoughts: Your internship period would determine your career path, direction and the next full time job opportunity you would be getting so take it very serious. Even if the remuneration isn’t too motivating, the level of progress in that internship can give you a kick start into a more rewarding career.

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