To paint a better picture, it might be worthwhile to share a bit about me and contextualize this post. Over the past 5 years, I have interned in 6 different companies. I have had a wonderful opportunity to do many things – from working in tech and quality assurance to scientific research and data science, and most recently, in business process and manufacturing.

I’ve seen people shy away from internships. If you are unsure whether it’s worth your while or wondering how do you make the best use of a good opportunity? Keep reading. I have some tips for interns and new grads.

Photo by Olu Eletu

While I may not be qualified for career advice, I like to think that my experience certainly gives me a unique vantage point for these situations – starting a new job or an internship. I have literally been doing this every 4 months.  

So while this may or may not help you be successful in your current situation, it truly has worked wonders for me and I hope it helps you out in whatever way it can.

My top 3 tips for interns:

Be a “YES” man

This, more than anything. I understand that some people are more introverted than others and perhaps even more prone to anxiety but this would be the perfect chance to break out of that shell. Indeed, be a “yes” man.

, do you want to help me with XXX?
Hey, do you want to grab lunch/dinner/drinks with the team? Of Course!
Hey, how about hanging out after work with the XX team? You Bet!

There’s no better way to become integrated with your team and co-workers than being a “yes” person. Yeah, it might be awkward, or worse- even boring but you’ll get through it. You got through pulling all-nighters to learn 16 weeks of content in 16 hours, this is nothing.

When you are just starting out with anything, you need to make your mark. Nothing sells that more than being the new hire that’s up for anything and everything. Trust me, this always works. Yes, it can get pretty exhausting but you’ll be thanking yourself down the road.  

There’s always work

“I am just an intern, what can I really do” or “I just got hired, there’s so much to catch up on”
No and no.

You can and should do plenty! You can get familiar with how things go by just doing it. There’s no shame in getting down in the trenches and getting your hands dirty. If your supervisor doesn’t specifically assign you work – ask around. There’s always work to be done.

Not only will others recognize you for your attitude but it’s a great way to get a feel for work being done in other teams. If you ever want to transition to a different role, this will make it far more easier and likely.

Making connections

Personally, this is the most important thing I look for. Internships, at their core, are opportunities for new experiences. Same goes for building connections. Don’t undervalue the benefit of knowing people that work in a particular company or industry.

Even if they can’t get you a permanent position, there is tremendous value in having a connection. Look for mentors. In every place I have ever worked, there are people that are more than happy to coach you and give out valuable advice. Treasure them.

There is no secret to this. It’s all relative to how much time (and care) you want to put towards building relationships, just like you would with your friends and significant others. This is something that I am continuously working on because I know it needs more of my attention.

I don’t know about your mindset but it is worth remembering that you came to University to learn, not to sit on your ass and have someone spoon feed you a degree. That’s completely missing the point and waste of time and $$$.

In your 20s, your main priority should be learning something new and meaningful, and appreciating any opportunity that lets you do just that.

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