You are supposed to learn as much as possible as an intern, so fetching the coffee and sorting out the stationary cupboard is simply not good enough. Here are a few tips to help you get through your internship and get the most out of it.
1. Your boss is legally obligated to make sure you are learning valuable skills.
This is the case whether you are or are not being paid a wage. The only place where learning valuable skills is not a legal requirement is if you are interning within a non-profit organization. You are not there to fetch the coffee or take the dry cleaning. There may be a little of that, but the their obligation to you is to teach you valuable skills and not to simply do work that is of benefit to your employer.
2. Make a lasting impression on your boss.
This may be difficult as you are probably the most under qualified person there and it takes a few weeks for you to get up to speed. Still, if you can make a good impression on the people around you to the point where they miss you when you leave, then all the better. This will help you earn a recommendation from them and may be good if you want to reapply for a job with them.
3. Build up a contact list.
If you are making a good impression on your co-workers, then it should not be too hard to get a few contacts. They may come in handy at a later date if you do want to apply for a job. You may also keep a warm contact with them over social media so that they do not forget about you when it is time for you to apply for your job.
4. It is up to you to push for extra learning.
Many bosses are going to be happy to let you coast through your internship and learn just enough to get you by. If you push for extra learning, then you may make a good impression, plus your time will have been spent more productively.
5. The boss who gives you nothing to do.
You have to keep pushing and suggesting jobs that you can do. You have to make friends in the company and try to work with them. You have to push to get the recognition you deserve and go through all the things you could be learning with your boss. If you hit a brick wall, then it is time to start complaining to the people who put you on the internship.
6. Be wary of being hijacked.
One department takes you when you should be working in another. This is a big problem and you will have to put your foot down and demand that you are put into the department you were supposed to enter into. You did not come to their company as an employee; you are an intern and are supposed to get more out of the process than they as a company do.
7. Discuss your expectations during the interview.
Be very clear about your goals and expectations so you can call back to your interview if things start going wrong later on. You must bring up your concerns with the company and the administration staff and college staff who deal with internships because a lot of the time if you are being hijacked, ignored or are not learning anything then the company you are with may be breaking the law. Write out your expectations and goals whilst emailing back and forth so that you can show that you did not go there with the intention of making the coffee and such.
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