Have you taken the time to look at what jobs are available once you have finished studying? If you haven’t, it might be a valuable use of your time, to check out what’s around and the prerequisites required so you can understand what you need to be learning between now and graduating.
If you have checked out what’s being advertised, you have probably realised that most entry-level jobs require you to have at least two-years experience in your chosen field, which is a HUGE problem! If you are trying to study… When do you have the time to get this experience, and who will give it to you? Have you experienced this? Does it make you wonder how you’ll get a job when you finish uni if you can’t get this experience?
One opportunity that is available to ALL university students is to do an internship.
A common misconception about internships is that you will be peeling potatoes or making coffee, but this is far from the truth. It’s about gaining the skills, confidence, network and the small details that make a HUGE difference when you want to land your first job.
A world-class example is Drishya Prasad, who recently studied her Master of Marketing / Master of International Tourism and Hospitality Management at Griffith University. While doing so, she didn’t just do one internship, she did four, and the fourth offered her a fulltime job as their social media strategist after only two days of interning. Her best advice to you is:
The top 4 reasons an internship is a must
Reason #1 – You get a better awareness of real-world expectations and day-to-day requirements
University provides the foundational facts and content for your chosen field of study which you need to ensure you go into the workforce with some essential tools. There can be a gap when it comes to industry trends and the sheer amount of scope when it comes to the different types of jobs available. A great example of this is when you study Digital Marketing, you can become a graphic designer, social media expert, SEO expert, brand expert, strategist, campaign expert and the list goes on.
Whilst interning you experience two fundamental aspects;
- ⇨ Real-world responsibilities and problems that occur
- ⇨ How other employees solve their problems within the organisation
These are extremely valuable when you start to figure out what kind of job you want as you will have a broader perspective and be more aware of what you like and find exciting and what you don’t. It will help you to make decisions on the career path you want eventually to take.
Reason #2 – You can utilise the experience to enhance your studies
Have you ever had to imagine how a case study would look or feel like in the real world when your lecturer asked you questions about it? And you don’t know if your response was accurate. Doing an internship gives you context for the content you are learning as you understand how it actually works in the real world. The complicated theories and models now have perspective due to your ability to connect them with your internship experiences.
Reason # 3 – You get to capitalise co-workers knowledge and experience
You are sitting on a gold mine when you’re interning with all the knowledge, expertise and experience your coworkers have. When working with professionals within your field, it would be foolish of you not to understand their journey, how they got where they are and what mistakes you want to avoid. We highly recommend you start observing different roles, what they do and ask them as many questions as possible! This will give you more of an idea of what you can expect in that kind of role and more importantly, how to get where they are with ease.
Reason # 4 – You gain confidence to enter the job market
An internship is the building block for you to learn and grow into the professional world. Being around professionals and understanding them better while you manage your achievements is a valuable experience for you to get before you start working in that environment. As Drishya can attend to, it enhances your confidence tenfold as you know what to expect and can plan for it.
Top 3 things you need to do BEFORE your internship
#1 ⇨ Define what kind of experience you want – If you’re not sure, this is completely fine, then just make it broad.
#2 ⇨ Set goals for what you want to achieve during your internship – Remember it’s only 1-2 days a week for 1 to 6 months, so be realistic.
#3 ⇨ Look at the different opportunities the market has to offer – Check the internal database your university has to offer, check other job platforms and your favourite companies!
Pro Tip! If a company has shared a post about having interns before, they probably have an existing structure for internships, know how they will operate and what you will learn which shows you will get value for your time.
Top 7 things you need to know DURING your internship
#1 ⇨ Set SMART goals
- Specific – What do you want to accomplish?
- Measurable – How can you measure it?
- Attainable – Are they realistic?
- Relevant – Why is it relevant to your future career?
- Time-bound – When do they need to be done?
- When you use this methodology with even your smallest goals, you will achieve more, and it will provide much needed structure during your internship.
#2 ⇨ Review your goals
- Internships are usually only a few months long so reviewing your goals is critical to stay on top of what you’re trying to achieve. Remember to be flexible with your goals during your internship.
#3 ⇨ Be a sponge
- While setting goals is great and can lead to many achievements, if you have an open mind, you may be surprised with how much you will learn and grow outside of the goals you set!
#4 ⇨ Ask “Why”
- Being an intern gives you the opportunity to ask questions about everything and anything. When you understand the “Why” behind any given task, project or outcome then you can implement it in similar experiences in the future.
#5 ⇨ Build relationships
- This is an excellent opportunity for you to start building your professional network. Think about how you want to show up every day which will lead to how people will remember and talk about you to the next generation of interns. This is also an opportunity to connect with potential mentors to surround yourself with.
#6 ⇨ Keep a journal
- A few months might not seem like much, but you will experience a progressive learning curve. During your internship, it can be valuable to keep a reflective journal, to help you stay up to date with what you learnt and track your growth. This can be as simple as a paragraph, dot points or a full blown essay if that takes fancy.
- An example of a reflective journal looks like this:
|Date, time and where||What did I do today?
What did I learn today?
What did I struggle with today?
7th of October 2020
9 – 5 pm
|Today I started my brainstorm of the internship blog. I wrote a short draft of what I think is the best way to present it, and I read a few other blogs from internship experiences.
I scheduled posts on Facebook and LinkedIn, and I feel that my speed of doing the post-scheduling has increased, which is super-duper cool. This also means my time management is getting better.
#7 ⇨ Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date
- LinkedIn is a powerful professional platform for you to showcase your skills and experience. It’s also a great platform to stay connected with your co-workers when the internship is over.
- Regularly posting about your internship and writing about what you have learned can provide a journey of your career progression to any future employers.
Top 2 things you need to know AFTER your internship
#1 ⇨ Stay connected
There is an old saying “It’s not WHAT you know… it’s WHO you know”
Whilst an internship is all about gaining experience it’s most importantly about expanding your network. It’s valuable for you to keep the relationships you built during the experience strong as you never know where they might lead you in the future. It helps to keep an eye on what your network is posting about and stay engaged with them by commenting, sharing and liking posts.
#2 ⇨ Ask for a written reference
Whilst you may think you did a great job and learnt lots, it’s valuable to gain an insight into how your Manager / Co-workers saw you developing. A written reference can provide a trusted opinion that you form an important part of any team and a future employer would be lucky to have you. Be sure to upload it to your LinkedIn profile, so your network can check it out and you just never know, they might be looking for someone like you!
So, in short, is doing an internship a great idea? It’s a big yes from us!
If you know someone who might need to read this, please feel free to share it and write a comment below with your thoughts on why an internship is a must.