Date posted: 23/11/2016

How to best make full use of an internship

In Brief

  • Internships are the best ways to have a taste of the working world, so create opportunities if you can.
  • Don't treat the internship as a frivolous matter - treat it like a real job.
  • Create good relationships with everyone you work with - you never know if they will be of help later.

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Working while you study helps pay the bills - and much more. What you do outside your studies can make a big difference to your employability. It's all about being proactive and doing the right things to get noticed.

Don't wait your turn

Don't wait for opportunities, make them happen. One way to get a foot in the door with employers is through an internship. 53%* of New Zealand graduates who successfully entered the banking, insurance and financial services industry were interns. Research employers and find out what's on offer and what to apply for - and do it early. Banks, finance and insurance companies are a good place to start as many have formal graduate programmes.

Get work fit

Employers want to know you're a good fit for their organisation. Increase your chances of being the right fit by knowing the top 5 activities you can combine with study to gain valuable work and life experience. They all add up to increase your employability:

  • Part-time or casual work
  • Played social sport
  • Internships/summer role
  • Travelling
  • Voluntary or charity work

Act the part

Once you get in the door, don't treat the internship lightly. Be punctual, and complete your tasks before your deadlines. Internships are only there for a short period of time, so it really pays off to give it your all. An assignment, no matter how mundane, should be done with the intention to exceed. You should also never say no to small opportunities just because they aren't your ideal work task. By being enthusiastic and excelling at what you do, you can start building upon relationships and skills now, and use them for later endeavours.

Don't burn your bridges

While internships usually only last for a few weeks or months, it's easy to only build relationships with other interns working with you. However, forming deeper relationships within your work team as well as around the organisation can help you develop your working and communication skills. You'll also likely to create a network of people you can probably reach out to when you're ready to find your next job. A simple way to start would be to invite colleagues to lunch, or offer to help where you can.

Internships are hard, but doing only what's expected won't make a lasting impression. You need to bring your 'A' game, and make the most of your short time in the organisation - and undoubtedly these tips will bear fruit in your future jobs to come.

*Sourced from The New Zealand Top 50 Graduate Employers 2016