It’s been a little over a month since I started my internship and there are definitely a couple of things I have observed and learnt during this time which I would love to share. You will get a lot of advice from everyone for the first couple of months but nothing beats the actual day to day experience and observations you can make.
- It’s high-school all over again
My first day felt exactly like my first day of high school. I felt extremely inadequate for the job, but with time I noticed that just like high-school, its a learning process.The more I took it as another school with new rules, it became easier to accept that above all I was expected to learn and learn quick.
- Ask questions
I would feel very embarrassed when someone asked me a question that I didn’t know the answer to, until I accepted that the only way to learn is to boldly admit when I don’t know and ask questions. It is important to also do your research as much as you can because soon the newbie excuse becomes old.
- Celebrate your mistakes
As someone once said, celebrate your mistakes, reward your achievements and punish inactivity. Mistakes are only an opportunity to learn one way of not doing something ever again, and this is what leads to experience. So every time you fail, which will be many, stand tall, learn and move on. You will never grow if you remain in one place.
- Adapt to your surroundings
Social situations don’t always come naturally to me especially in completely new territory, I literally have to will myself to be friendly and not shy away. My new trick, instead of going with Fake it Till you Make it, now I don’t force things. People will take time to warm up to you, some never will and it’s ok. As time goes by, they will get used to seeing your face in their space all the time and eventually they will naturally open up.
- Have an overall goal
If you don’t decide for yourself what you want, others will do it for you; be it your boss, your parents or your friends. I realized that I need to set my own goals and targets that are very selfish and very personal. I have had to decide what I want out of the experience as a whole, what I want to achieve and what I want to gain. This approach has helped make me more objective and purposeful in every task I do, because I have an overall goal I want to achieve for myself.
- Be generous
For some reason the same popularity you would get from sharing snacks in primary school is the same popularity you will gain from sharing snacks at work. You don’t have to share with everyone but sharing a few things like gum with the person sitting next to you, or a pack of biscuits with the ‘office click’ will definitely put you in peoples good books.
- Be on time and meet deadlines.
This seems very obvious, but it needs to be a priority otherwise you will forget to maintain it. You will be surprised how good a rapport you get from just being consistently punctual. It shows you are taking your job seriously, shows your ability to manage your time well and that you don’t need constant monitoring (read-every employer’s dream). Overall it shows that even though you may not have everything together, you are willing to get there.
- Know when to say no
When you are an intern, it is expected that you will do some odd jobs from time to time, however it is important to have a clear understanding of what your main job description is. This will prevent cases of being overwhelmed. Though this is not a popular step, in cases you feel overworked, escalate this to your supervisor or HR or someone you trust to help you with a solution and a way to approach this.
- Your boss is never your friend
At the end of the day not matter how friendly your boss is, they remain your boss so always be professional around them. And it’s really the simple things, your language, your way of presenting yourself, your dress code etc. When in doubt say nothing-a fool is a wise man until they open their mouth.
- Speak up
If you have an idea that you think would be beneficial, don’t be afraid to speak up. However keep in mind that you will be expected to give details of your idea and will in most cases be expected to implement it. So do your research, and be prepared to take up the added responsibility. At the end of the day, having ideas shows you’re proactive and you are a valuable asset to the company. And if you’re shut down, don’t take it personally, listen to the feedback and reevaluate your ideas to come up with a new approach.
All in all I am still learning, making a bunch of mistakes especially on number 7 and 8 but at the end of the day no. 3 gives me hope.
Feel free to share your thoughts and contribution on the topic at the end we all really just learn from one another. Also look out for a post on tips for finding and landing a job coming soon!
Till next time