July 8, 2014, by Beth Dawson

How to Make the Most out of Your Internship

Are you looking forward to undertaking an internship or work experience this summer? Don’t sleepwalk your way through this valuable period of time with our six ways to make the most out of your experience. 

Keep a record

How many times have you come to write a CV or covering letter and found yourself staring at a blank page?

By jotting down your notable achievements and responsibilities while they’re fresh in your mind during your internship, you’ll accumulate a wealth of examples to draw upon when you apply for an opportunity. Your notes will also enable you to reflect on the various aspects of your placement and consider whether there were any elements you particularly enjoyed and would like in a future career.

Become a social butterfly

It’s true what people say: it’s a small world. Even though you may not be part of a company for very long on placement, it’s important to get to know others in the workplace. You never know who you may meet again and contacts can offer you valuable advice and industry information.

Keep in touch with colleagues using the professional networking site LinkedIn. These people will also be able to endorse your skills and may have connections with others who are in a similar industry.

Make yourself indispensable

Don’t just stick to the responsibilities outlined in the job description. Offering to help out and take part in projects can be great way to learn more about the way the company operates, broaden your skill set and try something new. According to a recent survey, 37% of graduate vacancies are filled by those that have already undertaken work experience with the company they apply to, so getting stuck in and making a good impression could benefit you in the future.

Ask away

Unless you’ve not been totally truthful in your CV (which is fraud) you have no reason to worry about admitting you don’t know something. Although you may feel self-conscious about admitting that you need clarification, it’s much easier than trying to muddle your way through a task that you don’t understand.

Also, many employers view asking questions as a positive thing, since it demonstrates that you’re engaged in what they’re saying and are eager to learn new skills and information.

Get into good habits

You may get away with sneaking into a packed lecture theatre five minutes late, but a lack of organisational skills will be sure to leave an employer unimpressed.

Be sure to observe others in the workplace and try to figure out the company norms of behaviour. Some companies are very formal and others very relaxed, this may be reflected in the way they dress, the language used in internal emails and general workplace atmosphere. Getting used to acting in a professional manner will help you when you do make the transition from campus to career. Visit our professionalism at work webpage for advice on how to behave in the workplace.

Request a reference

At the end of your internship, ask your manager if they would be able to provide you with a reference for future positions. If you’ve impressed during your time at the company, they’ll usually be happy to pass on feedback about your good work to future employers and a guaranteed reference is even part of some work experience schemes. This could be invaluable to you, especially if you have little work experience.

For more information about how to make the most of your internship or work experience, visit our work experience webpages. If you haven’t secured an internship, it’s not too late to get work experience lined up for the summer, see what opportunities are available on My Career and what Unitemps are advertising.

Posted in Work experience