8 Tips to Guarantee a Successful Internship

Written by Tyler Evans – iXperience Internship & Admissions Manager

In 2015 I managed the placement, on-boarding and deliverables of over 100 interns from top schools at the likes of Uber, Accenture, MB Vermeer and Firefly Capital here in Cape Town. Working as an Internship Manager at iXperience and seeing first-hand what employers want and expect of their interns has taught me invaluable lessons about what it takes to be an outstanding intern and how to make the most of an internship opportunity.

During your internship you’ll develop skills, build your resume, have the opportunity to network with professionals in your field and, if you follow the 8 steps below, receive amazing references for when you really need them. Most importantly, you’ll get your foot in the door and increase your chances of landing a full-time job once you graduate.

You have one shot to prove your value while also learning a ton, and here’s how:

  1. No job is ever going to be easy or perfect. In the real world nothing is easy. You are going to be given tasks you don’t enjoy as much as others, projects you might hate and work that, in your eyes, is meaningless. But don’t let it get you down. Keep your head up and finish each project to the best of your ability. See every challenge as an opportunity to learn something new, and hey, even if you hate it, you’ll start to understand what you don’t enjoy and what you love.
  2. Show commitment. Show up for work on time and, if necessary, stay on later in the evening. Do whatever it takes to get your work done and to get it done well! Being on time and staying later than expected will show your employer how committed you are to doing a great job. It’s the employees/interns that are willing to sacrifice their own time by working overtime that get noticed.
  3. Use your initiative. If you finish your task, ask around for something else to do. Rather be proactive than reactive. Move around the office and make yourself useful. Help out wherever possible. No task is too good for you. The more you do the better.
  4. Push your boundaries. The quickest way to learn is by stepping out of your comfort zone and exposing yourself to the unknown. Use every opportunity you get to improve your skills in the workplace. No matter how complex the task might seem, it will only benefit you in the long run.
  5. Don’t be scared to ask questions. You are an intern, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. In fact, asking questions is a good thing and your boss will expect it. It shows you are willing to learn. If you’re having a problem with something, ask someone for help. It can feel like you’re asking a stupid question and getting in the way of real work but no one expects you to be an expert from the start. Just remember that everyone had to start from the bottom.
  6. Be a team player. Consider yourself as part of the team, and with everything you contribute, remember that your involvement is playing a role in helping the team as a whole achieve their goals. When things are going well you can celebrate with the team, but, if the chips are down, be willing to stand together and learn from your mistakes as a team.
  7. Network like there is no tomorrow. Take every opportunity to meet as many of your co-workers as possible. If you are working in a big company, you may only have the chance to work closely with certain people in one department. This is why it’s important for you to make a concerted effort to build quality relationships and make connections with people throughout the entire company. As time consuming as this is, it’s worth every second of effort because connections are what get you ahead and open up opportunities for you in the future.
  8. Exceed expectations. YOU hold the key to your own success. Make sure you put in that bit extra that gets you noticed. It will only stand you in good stead for the future.

Lastly, think about why internships exist. They exist as an opportunity for you not only to learn and grow professionally, but to explore your passions and interests. The only way to discover what you’re truly passionate about is to make the most of every learning opportunity you get. If you follow these 8 simple steps during your next internship, you’ll soon discover where you are and where you want to be.