I wrote a post a few day ago on Things I wish people had told me about graduating from University (but didn’t) and since I wrote so much about interning I wanted to follow it up with a post solely about internships, what to expect from them, and how to make the most from them. It’s a strange time and place to be and experiences vary, but basically, this is how I’ve faired as a Digital Marketing/ Marketing intern.
Just do your best
Firstly, it is a strange place to be because you are thrust into all this work and expected to just get on with it with little help but simultaneously you aren’t trusted enough to just work freely. It is a constant tight-rope walk between trying to do your work but being reigned in because you have to constantly have to report back to people who both want you to report to them, but also resent you a little for disturbing their work. It is awkward but you just have to suck it up and get on with it, just do as much as you can and report back when you can- don’t feel that you’re irritating people (you probably are) but there’s work to be done and you just need to get on with it.
Keep note of what you are expected to do
The importance of this is 2 fold- Your work will vary a lot from day to day, especially if the company is struggling to fill your time so you need to keep note of the work you have to keep up with or you’ll keep forgetting and make a bad impression by continuously asking the same questions. Additionally, you need to keep note of what you do to put it on your résumé and LinkedIn, seems silly but it is really important. Why would you be interning if you’re not going to showcase the experience gained? Building upon this, take photos of what you do or get evidence of your impact (if you can and it’s ethical/allowed). This is for your LinkedIn (more on that later). As I am in Digital Marketing it’s quite easy for me as I usually screenshot portions of social media that I have worked on that have done well or I am proud of for some reason, but this doesn’t necessarily work in all sectors. If you’re not allowed to showcase parts of your work, take photos of yourself working or take group photos with the team. It’s easiest to do this when you leave on your last day as a goodbye. Photos should show your personality but also be semi-professional- By all means smile but duck face is a no no.
Don’t expect too much
In the past, you could safely expect to be employed after an internship but that just isn’t the case anymore. Most of the time company’s know they’re not going to keep you and it’s pretty clear when you apply. If it says explicitly “with the possibility of employment for the right person” this is a rare gem and definitely worth applying for but for the majority its 3-4 months of free work and you walk away with something to add to your résumé and nothing else. It’s not because the company doesn’t like you, it’s not a reflection of your work, and it’s not a reflection on the business, it’s just the way things work at the moment.
Don’t be afraid to network!
A lot of people who employ interns completely empathise with them, they have been in the same position as you and they are usually willing to help. People are more than happy to put in a good word for you or give advice on where to apply and you should definitely listen to this advice! Usually just after I start I ask what my new employer liked and disliked about my CV and that is very useful information too! I’ve got multiple internships in the past through my contacts at previous internships- it’s always worth asking.
You need to keep your chin up.
It sucks working really hard and not getting paid, it sucks not having money & having to take a second job to make ends meet and it really sucks that you have to continuously apply (and be rejected for) your dream job. I struggle with this so much, but you just need to keep at it. You just need to keep moving forward and take whatever you can to get you to your ultimate goal- a paid job.