Nowadays internships are a crucial part of graduates’ path to their first real job. They are a great opportunity to get to know a certain field of employment, gain first practical experiences, acquire new skills, and build professional relationships. However, internships can also be quite tricky for young people who have never worked in a professional work environment before and require a lot of adjustment. Thus, embarking on such a mission, full of unknown tasks and challenges, might be scary – the good news is, there is a simple way to master your internship and get the most out of it professionally as well as personally: You’re the AGENT on this mission, so be the AGENT of your own luck and success! That’s the inspirational way to remember it. Alternatively, you can picture yourself as James Bond, on a mission to kick butts during your first work experience, extracting all valuable information, and building new skills as you go. Either way, just remember the acronym. Trust me. Here’s why.
- A for “Asking”: You are in your internship to learn, so take advantage of that fact that more experienced colleagues are there to teach you. Be a sponge (or in our metaphor, a fabulous agent) and absorb all the information that you can, from work culture to how to best complete a specific task or behave during meetings. Take your time to note down thoughtful questions to ask the people around you. Also, ask your manager for feedback every once in a while. This will help you evaluate your work so far, improve your future performance, and help you grow.
- G for “Goals”: Like a good agent, come prepared. Be clear about what you want to achieve during your internship and what your key objectives are even before you show up on the first day. Interpret what you’ve learned appropriately, evaluating how you’ve developed by tackling all kinds of tasks, even the small ones, and use these insights in future job interviews. Be aware of skills that come naturally and ones that you’ve acquired through different tasks. Ask for feedback in order to pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses and to reflect on how to improve for your next mission.
- E for “Extra work” and “Excellence”: Find the right balance. Take on work that no one else wants to do and ask to assist in exciting projects, even though they might not be assigned to you directly. This will help you expand your skills and experiences, boost you to take on new and challenging projects with enthusiasm, all while showing your boss that you are motivated and eager to contribute to the growth of the organization. BUT: Don’t rush to new projects without having fully completed the tasks assigned to you to the best of your abilities first. Always take the time to do a great job and ensure the quality of your work. Every good agent knows this is important.
- N for “Networking”: Yes, sometimes it seems like James Bond is all about a one-man show, but where would he be without connections and support from his valuable colleagues? During your internship, you will meet many different people, from other interns to older co-workers up to bosses. Talk to them about their experiences to learn as much as possible about their work, choices, motivations, and the organization in general. Furthermore, forming connections during your internship can not only help you manage current work and responsibilities, but also boost your personal development by being exposed to different kinds of people, departments and tasks. Try to keep in touch even after you’ve completed your internship – the truth is that sometimes when getting a job or an interview opportunity, it comes down to who you know or what your former boss says about you.
- T for “Time”: This is a simple one but goes a long way. Always be punctual. Arrive for meetings before they actually begin and complete your tasks by their deadlines. If an agent is late or misses appointments, usually the whole mission goes sour.
Ultimately, at the end of your internship-mission, take the time to evaluate it and consider what you’ve gained in general. Not only strengths, weaknesses and a new set of skills, but also values, interests, accomplishments, and whether this is the right job or industry for you. How could the newly gained skills and knowledge benefit you and contribute to your future career plans? Once you’ve figured out everything you’ve gotten out of your experience, you’ll be ready to move on to a potential full-time employment, and the next challenging mission on your path.
That being said, are you ready to glance through some internship opportunities? Take a look at here.
Author: Catherine Barth