The Five Big Mistakes That Will Sink Your Internship This Summer

I have no qualms about saying that, for a host of reasons, I’m not a fan of internships and the emphasis we place on them as the best (and increasingly only) path to that elusive post-college entry-level white collar job. But, as a career advice Cassandra, I realize I’m in the minority. Interns are going to intern. If your summer plans involve getting on-the-job experience (and a decent paycheck – please hold out for that) in the hope of increasing your future employability in a world in which the value of a college degree seems to erode by the year, you can at least go about it in the smartest manner possible. In other words, don’t make these mistakes. Assuming Your Boss Knows What He/She Is Doing It’s possible your manager hires interns because he or she deeply believes in nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurial or creative talent. It’s also possible that he or she has never managed anyone before, just needed an extra set of (cheap) hands around the office or was told from on high that the department would be getting an intern, end of story. The point being that it’s very unlikely that your growth and development will be this person’s top priority. Between putting out various fires, dealing with inter-office politics and daydreaming about an upcoming two weeks at a cabin in Maine, your boss likely won’t be devoting significant time to planning out your workload. Thinking your manager has your best interests at heart and relying on him or her to craft a winning internship experience on your behalf is a mistake. Sticking To Your Job Description Your job description is probably vague and undefined, possibly written an hour before the deadline to get it into your college career center’s posting system. Your job description was essentially a cattle call to get some eager young things through the door to be interviewed and appropriately culled. Do not think about it as anything more than that. You won’t be evaluated based on whether you met a series of bullet lists on a page, but on how you demonstrated initiative and brought some original value to the organization. Focus on that by identifying one or two specific projects that you can own beginning to end over the course of your internship. Not Getting Enough Feedback The squeaky wheel gets the grease and the persistent intern gets the most valuable feedback. Don’t wait until the end of your internship to find out how it went. That leaves you with no chance to course correct or explores opportunities to do more or different work. If you wait until the last minute, your manager is also more likely to sugarcoat their assessment of your performance so that things end on a good note. You want to know whether you’re on track or off as early and as consistently as possible. You also want to do this in a way that doesn’t create additional friction for your manager (Remember, their mind is elsewhere). All you need is 10 minutes/week to chat about how things are going, get some crucial face time with your supervisor and identify your value-adding projects. Ask for this weekly check-in at the beginning of your internship. Send your boss the recurring calendar invite on your first day. If he or she has to cancel an appointment, be dogged about getting it rescheduled ASAP. Not Treating This Like A “Real” Job An internship should be focused on learning. Sure hard skills are nice, but the primary thing you need to learn is how a typical workplace in your field operates. Soak up the knowledge of how everyone dresses, the way they talk to subordinates, superiors and peers and how they act in meetings. Tell yourself you aren’t some kid playing at being a grown-up, you are a temporary consultant brought in to learn about this organization and help to improve it. This means you need to understand it from the ground up and immerse yourself in its culture. Ask to be included in staff meetings even though they’re stultifying. Learn the CEO’s name and say hi to her in the elevator. Make an appearance at Gordon’s retirement party even though it’s at 4:30 p.m. on a Friday and there will be cardboard-y store-bought cake and everyone will be older than your parents. The college world and the working world are different. Learn the difference now, so that you can demonstrate this understanding to future employers. Trust me, no one will have the time or inclination to teach you. Forgetting To Follow Up Congratulations, you’ve completed your internship. If you’re lucky, you’ve earned enough to offset some minor portion of next year’s exorbitant tuition. Beyond that, what you’ve also done is started laying the foundation for your professional network, if you play your cards right. Clocking out on the last day and never thinking about your time at Company X again isn’t a smart move. Instead, start penning that thank you note to your manager, connecting with your temporary colleagues on LinkedIn and updating your resume to reflect your biggest summer accomplishments before they’re wiped from your mind by the stress of another semester. Source-forbes.com For further assistance related to Internship related queries in India, Dubai or Singapore, please visit: http://www.pursueasia.com

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