Internships are often seen as controversial because some companies use them as a source of free and eager labour. They are also often linked to wealthy, London-dwelling, highly connected graduates with parents ‘in the know’. But, the reality for many students is that they are one of the best ways to find a way into the increasingly competitive job market.
Having been lucky enough to bag myself one of these super useful internships at tech PR agency EML Wildfire, here are my top tips for surviving and getting the most out of your time at the company.
Get stuck in
When you first start your internship there are likely to be times when you don’t have any work to do. Colleagues will be conscious not to dump too much on you, especially if they don’t know your skill level.
So go looking for work if you have finished what you were doing. This is a great way to get experience in all the varying types of work a company does. It enables you to work with lots of different people, which is a fantastic way of learning, and it also shows those around you that you are eager and willing to get involved.
Ask, ask, and ask again
One of the most important things to do is ask questions. Asking a question shows that you want to learn and understand the job you are doing. Colleagues would much rather you ask them a question so that you can do the task correctly rather than messing it up because you were too shy or ashamed.
Being an intern, in most cases, means that you will have little or no experience. Your employers and colleagues won’t (hopefully) expect you to know everything. But if you don’t ask, you won’t learn, and the whole point of an internship is to learn the skills of your chosen occupation.
Don’t worry (too much) if you make a mistake… just don’t do it twice
As mentioned before, being an intern means that you won’t know all the answers and you won’t have all the skills. You are bound to make a few mistakes (everyone at all levels does). The important thing is to learn from your mistakes and not to repeat them.
Being able to show that you are strong enough to take responsibility for a mistake and demonstrate that you have learnt from it is a fantastic skill in itself. It proves you have a professional mindset and that you are a quick learner.
Don’t be scared to say no
One of the most important pieces of advice that I’ve been given while working in tech PR is to say no to something you know you won’t have time to do. Once the initial few weeks have passed, people will be asking you to do work left, right, and centre.
It is better to turn down a piece of work you know you don’t have time to do than take it on and not do it. If the work is really urgent then talk to the other people you are doing work for and see if that can be postponed.
Make the most of it: work hard, play hard
An internship is one of the best opportunities you can ever get. If you work hard, the skills and experience that you’ll gain will put you well above the majority of unemployed graduates.
Don’t forget to enjoy yourself however. You should remember to balance your work life with your social life. Make the most of any opportunities you get to go on work nights out, networking evenings etc.
Work life will be much more enjoyable if you integrate and get to know people in the office (it can’t harm you to buy people a drink or two).