Once you’re done with all the classes and exams it is the time to translate your knowledge into practice. This transition can be overwhelming and this gives rise to critical deliberation and internal turmoil, as you try to determine your level of preparedness, and your ability to embrace the opportunities. Areas such as; communication, social media usage, dress code, etiquette, and corporate responsibility, create a pressing concern in the minds of many entry level applicants. These critical features such as behaviour and image portrayal can be major factors when determining whether or not you will become a part of the company’s future. To ensure that you are ready for success, here are some things to consider and also to put into practice when preparing for your internship.
Familiarize yourself with the establishment; research the role and company beforehand
Understanding the company’s mission and corporate hierarchy are important aspects of any job. It is crucial to confirm to whom you are reporting. This is beneficial as it assists you in understanding the fundamental values of the company before your internship even begins. What kind of organizational culture am I going to be a part of? This is important to know if you will be a good fit for the organization. Furthermore, staying informed about anything that is happening with the company will prove beneficial for your internship as well.
Get your attitude right; adopt an attitude your internship supervisor will love
Employers are interested in learning which characteristics you possess that will be vital and reliable assets to them. If you are intelligent but display an irrational personality, this can be the barrier that blocks you from becoming hired full time. What they require is someone who is always aware and prepared, open to learning and can take criticism when necessary.
Be on time; present yourself as a responsible and punctual worker
The ability to be punctual shows a good sign of your commitment and demonstrates your ability to be consistent in the workplace. While some situations may be beyond your control, you should attempt to minimize your tendency to be late through effective planning. If your primary means of commuting is via public transportation plan in advance, taking into careful consideration factors such as time and possible emergencies and or other circumstances (traffic), to ensure that you reach your destination in a timely manner.
Dress professionally to reflect the workplace; practice your ability to be modest in your dress code
Every job has its own unique dress code. Therefore, it is important to have appropriate attire available for your new internship. Make sure you understand the dress code and if necessary, go shopping beforehand. Knowing what is suitable to wear to work is essential to your success at your internship. Remember, first impressions are very important and can create a lasting impact. In the event that you are not completely sure about the dress code, do not be afraid to contact your supervisor before the time for a little guidance.
Learn office etiquette; be mindful of it at all times
Transitioning from academics to a professional environment requires a substantial amount of adjustment and knowledge of professional etiquette. Where you would normally have the leverage to engage in informal communication and everyday behaviours (texting, chatting) in the classroom, these practices are usually not permitted in the workplace. Other concerns of extreme importance include, being polite, and maintaining respect and common courtesy, especially towards your superiors. In addition, hygiene, cleanliness, and dining etiquette should be paid close attention to.
Bring a note book; note and report taking are critical during internship
Most likely, your first day will be filled with co-workers giving unsolicited advice and explaining the ins and outs of your workplace. So take advantage of this opportunity by making notes to review later on so you do not forget anything important! While it’s tempting to make mental notes, after the fourth mental sticky-note, you’ve probably already forgotten the first thing you needed to remember.
Team work makes the dream work; strive to be a team player
You are the one who needs to leave the best impression. Be resourceful and come up with solutions. Learn to get along with colleagues. Offer assistance. Contribute. Prove to your employer that you can also be an independent thinker, who can still collaborate with others and make compromises when needed.
Make meaningful connections; establish a good network within the company
The best way to create a good reputation within the company is to be involved, proactive and enthusiastic. Proposing ideas, seizing every opportunity to network and making connections are necessary. In this way, supervisors can stand as a reference to your work for potential future consideration. Get to know the employees well while inquiring about potential prospects and building a rapport with strategic personnel.
Work smart not hard; manage your load and do not take more than you can handle
Translate what you learn into practice and make keen observations to do all that you are required. Furthermore, keep in mind the long-term goals such as recommendations and possible job offers. Remain proactive and desist from complaining at all costs. Take the initiative and ask questions wherever uncertainty exists. Be visible and make yourself available at all times. As an old business saying goes, “never go to your manager with problems; always go with possible solutions to a problem you’re faced with.”
And there you have it, your “How To´ guide for internships. These are a collection of the essential principles of a basic internship. Undoubtedly, the workplace can be a very volatile environment with unpredictable regulations and may require you to adapt to an ever-changing environment. But have no fear, this guide will equip you to excel in the workplace. Put it into practice and watch as you become a super intern.
by Daniella Thompson (BSc. Tourism Management, 2015)