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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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More by this author

Ben Brumm

Ben is a business analyst and software developer. He shares career advice on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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