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How to get the most out of your internship

Its summer time and while this means most of you can get to cool off after a tough semester of school, A-Level and University students have to start thinking about internships and part-time jobs. Both are motivated by different reasons. An A-Level kid might be motivated by the fact that an internship will land him into a good college and a University student will be motivated by the fact that an internship would make his resume look even better to future employees. In short internships are important and its best if you know how to get the most out of it.

Being an intern in Bangladesh is a serious problem. Most corporate and professional bodies don't have an official internship program and so when you do get one, you end up in the hands of people who really have no idea what to do with you. Its likely they will toss you around the office, sending you from one person to another and this can get a bit unnerving. You might feel that you are causing them a problem but be patient and talk to people and soon you will find someone whom you can relate with and who will guide you through the internship.

Remember in the initial stage always try to steer the conversation. Explain clearly what you want out of this internship and why you are here. If you act vague they will act vague. Be specific. Say I want to get to know how this office runs. I want to know what you do. Asking them about their work is the best way to get comfortable with people and learn new things. They will be more enthusiastic to talk about what work they do. Listen and always act enthusiastically, even if you are bored out of your skin. It's the best way to forge a connection. Keep on offering them your help.

Eventually they will offer you some kind of work. It will probably be very stupid, like filing things or photocopying stuff, but still do it. You don't expect to get a job involving rocket science in the very first week. Be patient and keep on doing those stupid things. You will learn valuable things through it. For example, this person in the office one friend was interning in said:

“Filing is one of the easiest jobs in the office. I can do it, and intern can do it and an office peon can also do it. But while the office peon will do it without looking at what's in the file or reading the contents, the intern will and here as you browse through you will learn completely new things”

Always promote yourself. Tell others what you know and what you learned. If you are good with spread sheets tell them and if you are good with programming tell them that as well. In the internship I am currently doing, I watched my co-workers doing routine stuff using excel. I knew the stuff they were doing can easily be done quickly using macros. I told them I knew VB and offered to write them small programs to automate it. In that way not only I ended up doing something interesting but also learnt valuable things about banking software. Its nickels of knowledge like this which eventually becomes very important. Alternatively you might come up with your own plan. You can offer to write a report or work on a problem on behalf of them. Talk to the authorities regarding your plans and see what they think. If you are in a hospital say you will conduct a survey among patients, if you are in an NGO say you want to research on a social aspect. Take the initiative!

While you are in the office also feel free to move around. Talk to people around you. Remember a major part of an internship is to make friends and acquaintances who might help you later on in your life. Forge connections. Spread your network. You might not feel the short run effects but in the long run it will be very useful.

Remember try not to feel lost or bored. Enthusiasm is the key to a successful internship. Enthusiasm will help make everyone comfortable with you and also make you appear as someone who is bright and eager to learn.

By Reggie


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