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5 Tips For Your First IT Internship

5 Tips For Your First IT Internship

You’ve gotten your first IT internship, and it starts soon. How can you not only do well in this internship, but make it count towards your long term career success? Learn some tips for your first IT internship in this article.

1. Ask Lots of Questions

You know when people say “don’t ask stupid questions”? Well I don’t think that’s true at all. Especially when it comes to internships for your career. It’s better to ask as many questions as you can, even if they do seem stupid. To really learn a lot and do well in your internship, it’s a good idea to ask a lot of questions. Ask your boss, ask your colleagues, ask people you see around the office. This is the best way to learn. Word will get around that you’re the intern. Everyone knows what it’s like to start a new role, especially when you’re young, so they will likely offer their help. Asking lots of questions is a good way to learn about your role, the company, and the industry you’re working in.

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2. Make A Good Impression

This tip might seem pretty obvious, but it’s important to make a good impression. A good impression means making sure you create positive thoughts with your employer, both immediately and in the future. They should be able to think of you and immediately think that you are hard working and professional. This is important both for starting an IT internship and if you’re starting a new IT job. Some of the ways you can do this include:

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  • Dress professionally for the office. If you’re not sure what to wear, ask before you go to the job. The rules depend on the company’s dress code, which means you could be wearing a suit and tie, shirt with suit pants, or a collared shirt with jeans. Any combination like this is common in office environments, so make sure you find out which one is appropriate.
  • Arrive on time and don’t leave early. One of the most common mistakes young IT workers make is arriving late to work. It sends a very good message if you constantly arrive on time or early for your work day. If your day starts at 9, don’t arrive at 9:10, arrive at 8:45. It’s better to be early. Also, the same goes for leaving on time. It’s better to leave after your set finish time than before it.
  • Focus on work. Don’t let the distractions of the outside world interfere with you when you’re meant to be working. This includes phone calls, personal browsing, Facebook, sending text messages and running errands. Leave this for your lunch break or after work.

3. Take Lots Of Notes

When you start a new role as an IT intern, it can be quite overwhelming. It’s a good idea to get a pen and paper and take notes wherever you go. Write down the things that you learn, people’s names, systems, dates, plans, and decisions that are made. It’s useful to do this as it helps you remember things, it helps you learn, and it can help when looking back to things at a later date. Take your notepad and pen to any meetings you go to and take notes there. Bring it when you go to other people’s desks, in case you need to write something down. It might sounds like a lot of work, but if you’re able to remember something or help someone because of some notes you took, it makes it worthwhile.

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4. Find Out The Chances Of A Full Time Position

Many companies that offer internships also have openings for full time positions. These positions could start straight after the internship, or they could be available at a later date when the student graduates. Other organizations don’t offer a chance for these to turn into full time positions. Other companies only offer them to the best interns, with most of them missing out. A good thing to do while on your internship, perhaps near the end, is to find out the process for moving into a full time role. If you like the job you’re doing, or like the company and want to get a full time role with them, it’s a good idea to ask. Ask your boss how the process works, ask them if they offer full time positions to those interns who are interested. They should be able to tell you how it works, or show you someone who can. If all else fails, at least you got some good experience with a company, and you could even apply for a full time position when you graduate using the normal methods, such as via job ads.

5. Remember Everyone’s Name

A great way to stand out from other interns, and even other employees, is to remember everyone’s name. You’ll likely meet a lot of people on the job, and it can be hard to remember everyone’s name. It will be worthwhile if you can, though. Try writing them down after you meet them. Write down something that you remember them by (that isn’t personal or insulting). If you meed one of the General Managers, write down their name next to GM so you can remember. If you remember where they sit, or where you saw them, write that down too. Little notes like this can help you remember people’s names. Other people will also come to you and ask for names of others if you remember names well, which also makes you stand out.

I hope the tips in this article are useful to you if you’re starting an internship soon. Good luck!

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Published on October 8, 2019

How to Advance Your Career (and the Big Mistakes You May be Making)

How to Advance Your Career (and the Big Mistakes You May be Making)

The late writer William S. Burroughs once said that “When you stop growing, you start dying.” It might have a morbid undertone, but it’s one hundred percent true in terms of one’s career.

The days of finding a job with one company that you can stick with for 30 years, and simply relax as you move up its company escalator are few and far between in today’s world. This isn’t necessarily bad news. On the contrary, it means that you’re the one in charge of shaping your career advancement.

By putting these principles and behaviors into practice, you’ll begin to see how to advance your career quickly. Ready? Let’s get started…

1. Define What Success Is for You

There’s no right or wrong definition of what success in your career looks like. The important thing is to figure out what success looks like for YOU. It might, and probably will, change along the way, but if you don’t have some sort of milestone on the horizon, then you won’t know which direction to go in.

Think about success in your career in terms of one year, five years, and 10 years. Once you have that, it’s time to lace up your boots and get to work.

2. Learn How to Develop and Follow a Plan

Nobody just stumbles upon success accidentally. Sure, they may stumble upon breakthroughs or new methods accidentally, but all success stories have one thing in common — a plan.

Establish a timeline for the things that you want to achieve in your career in the next year, five years, 10 years, and so on. Consider the skills that you’ll need to learn to make these things happen and work on acquiring them.

3. Surround Yourself With Those Better Than You

It’s a rule of thumb among musicians that if you want to get better, then you need to get out of the bedroom and play with people who are better than you.

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By surrounding yourself with people who are better than you and where you want to be, you’ll not only see how these people climbed to where they are in their respective fields, but you’ll learn from them and naturally want to push yourself to be better in your own job as well.

4. Seek Out a Mentor(s)

A mentor will not only be able to help you refine and reach your career goals, but will be invaluable in landing promotions and finding unadvertised job openings.

One unique approach is to work on fostering a relationship with a mentor both within and outside of your company. This will help in giving you different perspectives as you rise up through the ranks in your company and career overall.

5. Stop Wasting Your Mornings

You may not think you’re a morning person, but if you can learn to be one, you’ll thank yourself 10 years down the road.

Prepare a to-do list of tasks that you want to accomplish the day before and work on knocking them out for at least one hour before you respond to morning emails. The problem with responding to emails first, is you’re giving your attention to somebody else’s agenda, instead of plotting your own course for the day.

6. Arrange or Attend a Networking Party

If you’re attending networking events simply because you might get a few free drinks, you’re doing them wrong. These events are great for meeting new people and forming relationships. Your goal shouldn’t be to get hired by the end of the night, but to simply make a good impression by being friendly and authentic. So what’s next?

Reach out a few days later via email or on social media to follow up and connect!

7. Pick Up Some New Skills

Nobody wants to be the old dog that can’t learn any new tricks. To move up in your career, you’re going to likely need to pick up new skills along the way. Maybe your company offers on-the-job training or you have the option of taking online classes at night.

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By learning new skills, you’ll not only be able to expand upon what you can already do, but you’ll make yourself more valuable to your employer and future employers.

8. Exploit the Benefits Already at Your Disposal

Remember what we just said about the possibility of your company providing on-the-job training? Take advantage of these sorts of benefits!

If you’re working for a company that allows you to job shadow other employees or has company mixers, you should attend these. They not only allow you to develop your skills within the company, but show seasoned executives within your field that you’re interested in more than just clocking in for a paycheck.

9. Make Yourself Indispensable

Good help is hard to find and employers want to retain outstanding employees. If you can learn to make yourself indispensable to your company, you’ll not only communicate that you’re successful, but will have a lot more job security. What’s this entail though?

It’s actually not all that difficult. By being reliable, adapting to new challenges, and holding your own work and performance to a high standard, you’ll stand out among your peers and others will take notice. Easy enough, right?

10. Get Off the Fence

People who advance in their careers are those who don’t shy away from voicing their opinion and stand up with authority when the opportunity arises.

If a problem arises in your company and you think you might have a solution or are willing to work to find one, then let others know. Employers value and promote problem solvers. Start off with something small and work your way up towards tackling more difficult tasks and projects.

11. Don’t Wait for More Responsibility, Ask for It

If you want more responsibility in your job, then be open about it with your manager. Your manager may be so busy with their own work that they weren’t aware you were looking for more challenges.

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Just make sure you can handle it and that you already show strong performance in your current duties. And if your manager doesn’t seem supportive about offering you more responsibility, well, then it could be time to look for new employment.

12. Stop Wasting Time on What You Don’t Want

If your career goals start with “I should do this…” there could be a problem. This kind of language in referring to goals can doom them to failure because the want isn’t there.

Consider using the RUMBA method (Reasonable, Understandable, Measurable, Behavioral and Agreed) when setting your goals. That “agreed” part should really be “want.” By going after career goals that you actually want to accomplish, you’re much more likely to achieve them.

13. Seek Out Feedback and Apply It

Simply doing your job might not always push you up in your career advancement. Too often, employees just assume that their bosses will notice their performance strides and reach out when the time is right to advance.

Don’t be afraid to regularly seek out feedback and ask for constructive criticism. It not only shows that you value your manager’s opinion but demonstrates that you care about your job and want to become better in your chosen field.

14. Pick Your Bosses Wisely

Advancing in your career can move a lot quicker if you’re working for the right people. If your boss isn’t any good at their job or doesn’t value you, then moving up could become difficult.

A great boss though, will be able to help you capitalize on your strengths and be an advocate for your success. If there aren’t any strong developers of talent in your management chain already, then look around for some and seek them out as mentors.

15. Learn to Develop Your Sense of Timing

The odds of asking for a promotion or raise are in your favor with over 70 percent of respondents to a survey from PayScale reporting some success. One thing to keep in mind that can make all the difference is when you ask.

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Some corporate cultures may prefer that employees reach out about advancement during their annual review, but maybe you work for a more free-spirited startup. The best approach may be to take note of when others advance and ask about how the organization handles employee development.

16. Work Hard and Promote Yourself

Working hard and delivering a solid job performance are the keys to advancing in your career no matter what field you’re in. This doesn’t mean you need to be completely humble about your accomplishments either.

Keep a record of your positive impact within the organization and let others both within your company and your field know that you’re enthusiastic about your role and work.

17. Don’t Just Build Your Network… Cultivate It

It’s way too easy to add new people to your LinkedIn network and then forget about them for all eternity. Rather than just collecting business cards or social media contacts, you should be cultivating relationships with the ones you already have.

Follow up with people that you haven’t spoken to in a while, offer to connect them with somebody you know in their field, or ask about a new job title they may have taken on. Doing so could be the spark that leads to a potential job referral.

18. Join a Professional Organization

The National Association of (insert your industry here) and other professional organizations can still offer a great wealth of advantages from networking to industry insights, and skill development.

Even outside of professional organizations dedicated to particular job fields, civic organizations can also be fantastic for making new contacts. After all, so much about career advancement is who you know, and you never know who you’ll meet who knows somebody else who is looking for someone with your skills and experience.

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Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

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