How to succeed in your internship

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Whether you are doing your first work experience or have completed a number of internships learn how to make sure you build lasting connections and have the best possible chance of being offered a full-time job after finishing your studies. 


Always be on-time; dress appropriately; don’t turn up with a hangover because you drank too much at the party organized for interns last night, and yes I have seen it happen so many times!  

No matter how you feel BE PROACTIVE and be useful no matter how small or menial the task, you can always learn something. Don’t have an attitude that you are too good to do the coffee run or go to the print room. Never refuse to do a task that you are given.

Everybody has to start somewhere this is a journey not a sprint to the top. The interns that don’t get asked back are those that show lots of attitude and no interest. 

Don’t sit there plugged into your i-pod even if everybody does it. Just listening to others conversations can help you understand the culture of an organization. 


Speak to as many people as you can, identify who are the key influencers and arrange a coffee with them as early as possible in your internship. Find out who makes the hiring decisions and how they are made.  

Seek out the alumni from your university talk to them, find out what it is really like, volunteer to be an ambassador back on campus, this will ensure that you stay connected to key stakeholders and the organisation. 


Meet with your  manager on day one, agree objectives for your internship. Review these regularly and seek feedback. Be prepared to act on any development needs identified. Remember you can only be assessed on observed performance, You need to make sure that everybody knows if you have done a great job, share any feedback you get from peers, managers or clients. 

Don’t just stick to your immediate peers, find out as much about the organisation as possible. If you are in an internship that you don’t want to pursue but want to stay in the organisation seek out decision makers and influencers in the area you want to move into. Find out how you switch roles, Make connections with the campus recruitment team they influence hiring decisions and can connect you with key hiring decision makers in the business. 


Having conversations and doing face to face networking is the most importnat thing you can do. Anybody can be a successful networker; it helps if you are prepared. You need to be able to talk about yourself an ask questions of others. Make sure that you know your personal elevator pitch. Who are you, what your role is, what are you interested in doing, why should you be hired. Practice asking who, why, what, where type of questions. Research the person you are talking to, check their linked-in profile, know what they do and their role in the organisation. 




About karen Paginton

I provide consultancy services to organisations and individuals in the emerging talent space. I help organisations transform, develop and implement their emerging talent strategies including attraction, programme management and business engagement. I provide careers coaching to graduates and school leavers on employability skills ensuring that they have the best chance of securing an entry level role in their organisation of choice. I am passionate about ensuring equal access to graduate and school leaver opportunites and working with individuals, schools and organisations to increase student's employability and drive social mobility.
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