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5 Things You Can Gain From An Unpaid Internship

5 Things You Can Gain From An Unpaid Internship

If the thought of working for free might seem like a waste of your time, let me prove you wrong.

Taking an unpaid internship can actually bring you to another level, open new doors, build strong networks and provide you with the tools to achieve success and trust faster and easier.

Some of the most successful entrepreneurs knew that. They took low or unpaid jobs for a certain amount of time in their dream field just to understand what they were getting themselves into and gain precious knowledge before venturing on their own business.

We can either look at the glass half empty or half full, and I guarantee you that the benefits will exceed the downsides in many aspects.

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1. Reassurance.

Many times, when we’re young, we chose a course or a university degree in an area in which we think we’ll love to work. But once we finish the degree and start working in that field we felt so passionate about, we realize the reality is much different than what we dreamed of.

A lot of people develop a strong sense of guilt and shame, feeling they’ve spend so much time and money investing in a degree they actually don’t love anymore. These feelings push people to get stuck in unfulfilling jobs they’re not passionate about, that don’t bring them joy and personal growth. Many of these people develop depression, anxiety and other disorders.

Taking an unpaid internship in the area you believe you’d like to work on, prior to starting college, can be a wonderful way to find out if that’s really right for you. If you are going for a very specialized field you might not have a direct position on what you dream of, but you can surround yourself by the people who work in the field and understand it from the inside. From there, you can realistically see whether or not it’s right for you, and avoid spending time and money on a career you’re not so sure about.

2. Work/study benefits.

If you’re studying in an area which requires strong character and communication skills, and your course is not offering you that dynamic, having one or two days a week of unpaid practical internship alongside your university courses can bring you great rewards.

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Not only will you have all the theory and academic parts covered by your college, but you’ll be building and gaining valuable insight and practical knowledge by already having work-related hours in your field. Nowadays, most academic courses lack that practical approach, so combining both things will adequately prepare you for the future.

3. Become confident.

I know this from experience: when you’ve just finished your courses and have had no practical experience in your field yet, being send out in the world can be overwhelming and terrifying, especially if you’re an entrepreneur.

If you take an unpaid position for a few months in a company, you’ll build your confidence and gain valuable experience. Many successful entrepreneurs have actually done that before starting their own business. They took either a low paid or free internship in their dream fields to understand and learn all about that business, how to deal with clients, payrolls, expectations, marketing strategies, the dos and don’ts of their business area.

4. Build powerful relationships.

The world of business is all about building relationships and powerful connections. You’ll have greater chances to get a great job or a higher position depending on who you know and who you associate yourself with.

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Your work might have been so good and maybe you brought such powerful ideas and insights during your internship that they might want to keep you and offer you a job. After all, you’ll have advantage over everyone else. They know you, they trust you, and you’ve proven you can get the job done with perfect results.

Building a solid network within your field is crucial. Doors might open easier and faster because you’re already very familiar with the people and the work that needs to be done.

5. Build a strong curriculum.

The fact you took the time and energy to take an unpaid internship shows your level of commitment, perseverance and interest in becoming better and knowing more about your work field. Employers like that. They like people who actively find creative ways to improve their skills and knowledge. They’ll know you’re someone who wants to develop your capacities.

Having a practical component covered and proving you already have hands-on experience will always put you ahead of everyone else who only had a basic academic training.

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If you did an internship at an important company, you’ll benefit from being associated with their brand or name. That will give you credibility and trust.

Having a strong resume with relevant work experience is vital, and it’s what oftentimes will set you apart from all other candidates applying for a job.

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5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

Not being able to stay productive at work is a problem that everyone runs into at some point; no matter how much you like your job, there are certain factors that prevent you from staying at maximum proficiency throughout the whole day.

A lack of productive focus at work can lead to extra stress on yourself, missed deadlines, passed opportunities, raise denial, demotion and even termination.

So, if you are someone who has trouble with your productivity, here are five effective tips on how to be productive at work:

1. Take breaks

First and foremost, it’s important for you to take regular breaks. Trying to work throughout the whole day will tire your brain, which will then cause you to doze off and think about something else.

If you keep working your brain, it will fill up and get jumbled with information—sort of like a computer hard drive. Taking a break would be like resetting your computer so that it can start afresh, or de-fragmenting the data so that all the information is in order.

This is a great thing because it allows you to solve problems you were unable to solve previously, by seeing it differently; if you are able to organize your thoughts properly, you will be able to take in new information more easily.

There have even been studies about methods of saving time and staying proficient, and taking breaks is one of the leading factors.

According to Christine Hohlbaum, the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World, eating lunch away from your work area every day will greatly increase your productivity. Eating in your work area will give you the illusion that you are working, but whether you like it or not, your brain will begin to wander and think of something else and then you will be working tirelessly with no progress.

It’s important to take breaks before and during work too: if you come to work in a rush because you woke up late, your mind will not be mentally prepared for the day ahead, and you will spend the first 10 to 15 minutes trying to get organized and composed before you can actually start working.

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Instead, you should try to wake up 20 minutes earlier than the time it would take you to “just get” to work. Take that time to stare off into space and not worry about anything.

If you do this, your brain will be empty and ready for all the challenges it has coming for the next few hours.

If your employer only allows a set amount of breaks during the workday, that doesn’t mean you can’t just get up and walk around for a quick break every now and then.

Even if it’s only 5 minutes, it will refresh your brain and you will gain renewed energy to do your job.

Learn more about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

2. Pace yourself and balance your workload

One problem that most people run into is that they underestimate the amount of work they have to do, and end up doing 50% of the work in the last 20% of the time they have to do it. This is due to an issue of balancing one’s workload.

When you receive a project, or are doing a job you normally do, take some time to really plan out your work schedule.

Consider how much time it took you to do this last time; determine how you can break the project into smaller parts and which can only be accomplished on certain days, and whether anything might come up that could interfere with your plan.

All of these questions are important for starting on a project, and when answered, they will help you stay productive throughout each day.

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For example, if you needed to design a project to map out the amount of aid offered in various regions after Hurricane Sandy, you can break it up as follows:

You will need to know what organizations are offering help to begin with, how much aid those organizations gave or plan to give, which regions were hit by Sandy, and which regions suffered the greatest losses.

You start this project on a Thursday and know you have until Tuesday to gather this information.

In order to stay productive, you need to plan out your work week—now you know you can find out which organizations are involved in helping the Hurricane Sandy Victims any day since that information is online, but gathering information on the organizations may require you to call them.

Since phone calls can only be done during week days, you have to plan on gathering all of that information before the weekend comes.

That is just one example of a situation in which pre-planning your project will help you stay productive; had you researched the affected regions first, you would not have received the info on the organizations until the weekend, and may have missed your chance to call them.

That, in turn, would have wasted time you could have spent working on this project to finish it.

Knowing what you need to do, when you can do it, and how long it will take you, is important in balancing your workload and being more productive and efficient.

3. Put your work first

This is an issue that usually occurs with young people who are new to the workforce: they’re often tempted with offers to go out at midday, and then come back lost in thought and unfocused on their work-related tasks.

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While it is important to take breaks, your breaks should consist of you clearing your mind, not loading it up with other less important information—like sports.

However, that is not the only situation where you need to worry about putting your work first before all else.

In a work environment, the senior employees will oftentimes push some of their menial tasks onto the newer employees. If you fall into that category, you need to know that their work is not your work, so if you have tasks that need to be done, you need to do it first.

If you are a new employee, you must learn to say no to other people even when it means you may not be in their good graces anymore. You can help others out once your work is done, but you are paid to do your own work, not anyone else’s.

4. Don’t open your browser unless you need them

In this day and age, everyone is constantly monitoring their social network. This is a major pain point for companies, which is why many don’t allow employees to access their social networks on company workstations.

When you are at work, disconnect the internet from your phone and keep your browsers closed so you’re not tempted to log onto your social media accounts or browse any sites that are not work-related.

If you keep your browsers closed and phone tucked away, only to be used in an emergency, you will find yourself being a more productive employee right away. 

5. Try to be happy and optimistic

If you always have a negative outlook on life, you will be more distracted and less motivated to get work done, so it’s important for you to start your day off right.

This can be done by having a good breakfast or by taking time in the morning to watch one of your favorite TV shows before work.

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If you are happy, you will find yourself able to work much more productively as your mind won’t wander into worrying about something else.

Also, if you stay optimistic and keep telling yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to, the tasks will seem much less daunting and will go by much more quickly.

Take a look at more effective ways to stay positive at work:

15 Ways To Stay Positive At Work

Happiness and optimism are the keys to being a productive and happy employee.

All in all, heed the five tips above and you will find yourself being one of the most productive people at your company.

While you do not need to master them all, each and every one of them will help you become a better and more efficient employee.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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