How to make the most of your first position

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An internship is a pathway to employment and true insight into expectations of a functioning businesses. Avoid these mistakes to make the most of your opportunity and truly make yourself more employable. It is real tasks you do in a real operating business, so it is up to you to do it right. Here are three simple things to keep in mind:

Make sure it is the right position for you.

The first thing to do happens before you even accept the role. In a past blog from us titled ‘Play to your strengths – what type of company do you need’, examples were given to show that people with strengths in some areas have weaknesses in others. Don’t just accept any internship, for you to really excel you NEED the right position for you, and therefore you need to first identify what it is you need from the experience to take your career in the right direction. Some people enter an interview with the wrong attitude, thinking that because the interview is with a company that doesn’t have a nationally recognised brand that it is somewhat ‘not as good’, or that to work for an unheard of company would be an ‘embarrassment’. What you need to look for with each interview is the work you will do and the experience you will gain, do not disregard this. It is equally important to not only respect who you work for, but also respect the work that you do.

Everyone does admin duties, and you will be too.

Everyone does admin. It is unavoidable, even for senior managers. No matter how effective computer systems may be, organisations know the risk they run if any staff member leaves because their knowledge and processes walk out the door with them. Admin is an important part of any business and if you walk into an internship with the wrong attitude on admin, you may find the company culture is against you.

I recently had a candidate decline an internship position because one of the mentioned duties in the interview was ‘clean and maintain a tiny desk’. Truth is, it should be an unwritten requirement that you will clean and maintain your own workstation. You should also want to have a clean and tidy desk, this is all part of being professional and taking pride in your workplace.

Internships facilitated through Career of the Day always have interns engulfed into the business and its culture. However even to the best supervisors may ask you to go grab a coffee for them. Don’t grunt and moan at the request, you need to have an attitude of understanding why you have been asked, and that you want to do it. There is two parts to it; sympathising with the workload of your superior and knowing that someone has to do it. If you have an internship which is productive every minute of the day then that is terrific, however some days, particularly at the start, you will find yourself with some time to assist others. Understand that the reason you are being asked is because your manager have a backlog of work to do and money to make for the business, and you are assisting them by doing this task for you. Understand it and want to do it, and know that one day, you will be too busy to get your own coffee too.

Take pride in your presentation.

Last week I met with a new company, medium in size but large enough that they have a strong company culture and image that they maintain. They said to me that much more important to them then university results and study focuses is the presentation and motivation of candidates. They only want me passing through candidates who are well polished and take pride in their presentation. Being presentable is a part of your career, and you should not have your manager telling you off for poor grooming or dress sense. Owning a nice suit or a nice set of shoes can be expensive, however now is the time to spend the money. You will never look back!