By Adrian Buck
An internship is about experience – your experience. Here are 5 steps to take control and own it.
Step 1 - Research
Start early. Very early. The day you arrive on campus is the day you announce to the world: “I want to be somebody”. But who do you want to be? You probably don’t even know yet (no-one does), and that’s what an internship is all about. It’s also about learning and skills and stuff, but it’s a fantastic way to discover what’s out there and who you want to become. And guess what – that takes time. Get out there and introduce yourself to the people you might want to work with and to the companies employing grads with the skills you hope to learn in your studies. Because the later you leave it, the harder it gets.
Not sure how to get started? Talk to Careers – it’s what we’re good at.
Step 2 - Read Step 1 again, it’s important.
If however, you didn’t do Step 1, and your internship subject has just started and you’ve got no idea what you’re doing, don’t panic. Yes, you should have started earlier and yes, you could have done more to explore your options, but all is not lost. Come and talk to us at Drop-In and we’ll help you get back on track.
Step 3 - Set some goals
Well done! Either you paid attention to Step 1 or you’re back on track and making things happen. Either way, it’s time to set some goals. And I don’t mean the generic “I want to improve my communication skills” goals, I mean let’s decide on what we want to experience in our internship and how we can make the most of an awesome opportunity. “Like what?” you ask? Okay, here are some examples:
“I want to observe staff members and gain a better understanding of what is involved in project conception and development”
“I want to shadow designers and have the opportunity to ask questions regarding procedures”
“I want to participate in project meetings by taking minutes and communicating key points raised to staff and stakeholders”
You need to be able to tell someone what it is you want to experience, because if you don’t tell them, who will?!
Want some advice on setting some goals? Guess what, we’re good at that too, so book an appointment to talk to us.
Step 4 - Critical reflection
What’s the point in getting some great experience if you can’t articulate it in conversation? What’s the point of doing something, if not to learn from it and move forward? Explore your experience through critical reflection and understand its purpose, challenge your earlier assumptions and gain valuable insights into who you are and who you want to become.
Practice by telling a friend about your internship. Don’t just say: “It was great, I learned a lot about working in a professional environment”, or “I didn’t learn much, I just….” – think about your daily duties and identify what you learned, what you enjoyed, and what you’d want to do differently in the future. Every experience is a learning experience, you just need to spend some time reflecting on what you’ve done.
Step 5 - Do it all again
The more you experience, the more people you talk to and the more information you gather about the world you might move in to, the more confident you’ll be in your potential and the more confident you’ll be in your decisions. And when you’re confident, you’ve explored your options, and you’re moving in the right direction, it’s easy to tell a potential employer why they can be confident in you.
But hey, if you’re having any doubts… talk to Careers; it’s what we’re here for.
Adrian Buck is a Careers Consultant with UTS Careers. His passion for graduate employability can be experienced in his subject specific careers workshops and one-on-one consultations, where he creates environments for self-awareness, opportunity awareness, decision learning and transition learning through interesting, insightful and enjoyable activities.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash