Five things you shouldn’t worry about at your first internship
Internships are often the Holy Grail for so many uni students, but starting your first one can be quite daunting. There will be many internal battles, a whole lot of uncertanies and probably a little bit of desk chair swinging. You may also be wondering, “When on Earth do I get a lunch break?”
But internships are so valuable and at the end of the day, totally worth it. Many graduates have gained full-time positions from internships and even if you don't land a job, it's a great platform to put your skills into practice and learn a few tricks of the trade. To ease your nerves about embarking on this exciting adventure, here are five things you don’t need to stress about when starting your first internship.
Getting it right all the time
Internships are a learning process. Keep in mind that you're not a seasoned professional going into a job. You are there to acquire a better understanding of the industry and how it works in practice. No one expects you to get it right on your first go.
Remember that it's normal to make mistakes when you are learning; in fact, making mistakes is often how we learn. Your employers will not think you are stupid or incompetent, in fact many of the employees at your workplace probably started as interns too, so they know how daunting it may be.
Do you have a question? Great! Ask it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, questions are your friends.
Have you already asked the same question but need clarification? That’s OK, maybe ask another colleague or phrase the question in a different way. Remember questions are productive. They will make you seem keen to learn and engaged in what you’re doing.
Finding the right time to ask a question is a good piece of advice to remember. If your supervisor looks really busy you could wait until they have finished what they are doing or politely ask if you could have some help when they have finished what they are doing and have a spare minute or two.
Taking your time
Obviously you’re not going to get tasks done as fast as the other employees. Why? Because they have been doing it for a lot longer than you have. Practice makes perfect.
Avoid comparing yourself to other employees. I promise, thinking “Shit, Susie did that way faster than me and is already on the next task” will not serve you.
Feedback is not criticism – it's probably the msot valuable thing that will come out of doing an internship.
When someone provides you with feedback (and it is not necessarily good all the time) don’t be disheartened. It is their job as your supervisor to make sure you know what you are doing right and wrong so you can make necessary adjustments to improve.
Take it on board. If it is a bit harsh sometimes, cop it on the chin like a champ. They have good intentions and they are just trying to help you out.
Being a little nervous is lovely. It means that you truly care about your role as an intern and no employer is going to put a strike up against you for that.
Confidence will come naturally as you grow into the role. Make eye contact when you speak and be present in the moment. You’ll probably go home exhausted but at least you know you’ve done your job to the best of your ability.
After completing your first internship, you will be walking away with experience and you will know what your strengths and weaknesses are. Embrace the work culture and involve yourself as much as possible. Make yourself known in the workplace and speak up if you need to.
I promise you, speaking up and asking for something to do is better than swivelling in your chair for hours. It’s up to you how much you take from it.
Abigail is a third year journalism student that has a love affair with food and traveling. She enjoys long walks to her computer where she writes a few lifestyle pieces.