Its an Opportunity, use it.
Whether a compulsory academic requirement, an experiment to change careers or a return to work after a gap, view your internship as a make-or-break event of your career. You will then achieve your goal of either getting a permanent offer of employment, industry knowledge, practical skills or simply an invaluable addition to your resume. Here’s how you can make the most of your internship and boost your career.
1) Ask for work. Then work like a horse
Make sure your plate is full at all times. If not, ask for more work. Then slog harder than ever before. Start early. Be the first to reach office. You will bump into everyone who matters — from the director who has rushed in for an early morning video conference to the janitor who ensures the office is ready for the day. Be the last to leave and meet people who have stayed in late to handle a crisis. Join them and offer a helping hand even if it is getting the photocopying done. You will end up getting all kinds of tasks and also meet maximum number of people in the shortest time. You may not like many of the jobs. However, do each one meticulously and with extreme attention to detail. Your commitment and diligence will get you and your work noticed.
2) Make yourself a pest: Two weeks before you join, reach out to your manager to know more about the organisation. On joining, introduce yourself, greet people and ask questions about everything you don’t understand. Read up more and ask more insightful questions the next time. Aim to be present everywhere where there is action. Raise your hand every time volunteers are called for. Better still, don’t wait to be asked. Look around for projects that excite you and walk up to volunteer. If there is no work, offer to be a fly on the wall at meetings. Take notes and email them across as minutes of the meeting to your supervisor. Soon, everyone will recognise you as the go-getter. Your initiative will pay you back in terms of learning and tangible rewards.
3) Forget about your pay: Do not let little stipend money determine your choice of internship. Seek unpaid internships, if you find what you are learning is more than what they pay, I would say just don’t bother about pay.
4) Build Networks: Use this opportunity to connect with as many new people as you can — from colleagues, clients, vendors and other interns. You will bump into many of them in your career. Build lasting relationships by getting to know people beyond their immediate work. Go out for lunch or a coffee to bond with them. Schedule one-on-one meetings with your mentors, managers and team members. Attend office and industry events. After every interaction add contact details of people to your phone book or email a short note to yourself. Keep your relationships alive by writing thank you notes to those who took time out to meet you, share advice or help you. Stay in touch with your contacts even after you leave through emails, congratulatory notes and calls.
5) Follow all the rules: Every office has a set of written and a larger set of unwritten rules. Observe others and speak to your mentor to decode your office culture and environment. If your internship is less than three months, do not ask for leave. Be scrupulously early to office and to scheduled meetings. Keep your team members regularly updated about progress made on various tasks and finish them within deadlines. Avoid cultural gaffes like turning up in jeans when a major client is visiting office. Pay attention to office happenings but stay away from both politics and gossip. Don’t align yourself to any group.
6) Flattering the Boss: The most irritating intern is one who focuses on flattery to get hired. Bosses and team members are smart enough to recognise who is brown nosing his seniors instead of getting stuff done. Focus on sincerity instead of flattery to get recognised.
(The writer is Cheif Managing Director, Partner at GS Exports Limited.)