Ah interning… your first taste of what it’s like to be in a REAL office. On one hand you could learn so much from a mere 3 month (some could be up to 6 months long) stint, or on the other hand, it could just be a colossal waste of a time. Well, it all boils down to YOU actually.
It is a time to learn, and oh yes an even greater time to make mistakes. Don’t fear making mistakes, no one will kill you because you have the immunity of being an intern. People will forgive you if you make mistakes. Do the same thing when you are a confirmed staff of a company and then you’ll be the receiving end of a letter and an empty box. Now is the time to make mistakes and learn from them!
But please don’t make these mistakes.
Here are 9 mistakes that you should NOT make during your internship:
1. NOT Treating Each Job Task With Importance
Interning must be treated like a REAL job! Even if it may be boring tasks like compiling stats, helping your boss arrange for meeting times, or even photocopying; you should do these task like you mean it and do it well. Even as an intern where you may think your temporary existence in office may not mean much, you should still prove yourself not just to the people around you, but to yourself.
Of course you are not expected to pull stellar quality work because you are expected to not know much as an intern, but by you doing things with utmost importance and responsibility, your boss and the colleagues will be more confident in you and probably let you handle more ‘interesting work’.
2. NOT Asking For Help Or Guidance
No one is going to teach you anything if you don’t ask for any help. Don’t expect to be spoon-fed and hope that your boss or colleagues would just shove you information in hopes that you learn something out of this internship. You will have to work for the knowledge!
They won’t know what to teach you if you don’t ask what to be taught! It ain’t school no more with a set of syllabus that you need to finish in order. Get up, ask around, wonder about how things work, open your mouth and ASK. Remember, ‘ask and you shall receive, keep quiet and no one will ever know that you are dumb’.
3. NOT Embracing The Office’s Culture
You have heard the saying before, ‘do what the Romans do in Rome’, and it is true to being in an office. Every office has its own unique quirks and you should embrace it wholly. Pay attention to how people act in the office and how things work around there. So happens that the office you are in, the people around there arrive a little later than what you would expect. So what should you do? Match their timing. Maybe people in the office don’t enjoy anyone singing to themselves? So what do you do? Hell, don’t sing of course!
4. NOT Building Relationships With Your Colleagues
Not making any friends? Big boo boo. Keeping to yourself not only decreases the opportunities for you to learn anything, it will also make you just be “that intern I can’t remember what’s the fella’s name”. Unremarkable, forgettable. A definite waste.
It is a terrible thing to waste not making any friends during your internship as these people will make great networks for your future. Use social networks to your advantage, you may never know how the 6-degrees-of-separation is! Add them on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter, and keep their contact numbers for future use. Who knows, you could make really great lifelong friends over there!
5. NOT Asking For Feedback On How You Are Doing
Doing work and not knowing how you perform is a big mistake, you won’t know where you went wrong or even if there was an easier way to do it! Always ask for feedback when you have completed a task. Was it efficient? Was it the right way? Also if you feedback is critical or corrective, embrace it as that’s the right way to learn and be better! Your boss and colleagues are in a much better position to teach you things that are way over your head so listen well!
6. NOT Thanking Anyone Who Has Helped You
This is a simple one. If you don’t thank anyone for helping you, even if it’s just some small advice on let’s say, a keyboard shortcut, or maybe it could be a super technical explanation on server systems, you should always thank them as they have parted their time, energy and effort to convey some form of knowledge to you. Besides, when people feel appreciated of the help they have given someone, they would certainly be more than ready to help you even more again.
7. NOT Involving Yourself With Other Activities Out Of Your Job Description
Yes, you were hired to be on the client servicing team, or maybe you were hired to be in the marketing department. That does not mean you just stick to the work processes of that department!
You should take this time to learn more about how the other departments in the office work and function. How are the processes made around the office? What do your other colleagues actually do? It may seem like a lot of knowledge to digest but the eagerness to learn is definitely the way to success!
8. NOT Learning From Your Mistakes
No one likes ‘beating on a dead horse’. Essentially meaning people don’t like doing the same thing over and over again resulting in the same outcome. So if they teach you something, maybe how to avoid a mistake you made, and you make it again in the future; nobody is gonna ever help you again because they’ll label you ‘dumb as a rock’ and relegate you to the bench till your internship is up. Bye bye and good riddance.
9. NOT Keeping In Touch After You Are Done
Not keeping in touch with your colleagues during your internship means that you wasted your chance to build your professional network. Remember that you are fresh and still at the beginning of a long journey ahead in your career. Your networks will be your best gold mine to dig from!
Like the point about making friends with your colleagues, keeping relationships with these people will very much contribute to your future career. This is one of the most important opportunities presented during an internship. Remember that without this internship at that office, you would probably never have the chance to build that kind of network. Grab this limited time opportunity!
So there you have it! Mistakes can be made and learned from but if you make any of these mistakes, you will surely regret it. Make the most of your internship my friend! You future self will thank you.