Competition for jobs has always been fierce, but the recession has made it even harder for graduates to find work that matches their degree – In 2012, the number of graduates employed in ‘non degree’ workplaces such as supermarkets or call centres rose by 3,500 on the previous year*.
Work experience can be a great way for graduates to gain experience in their chosen field. Last year, one in twelve graduates coming out of university failed to find work within the first six months*– this negative situation can be turned on its head by getting an internship!
Here are five ways to leave a good impression as an intern:
Plan your time well
Make sure you keep an eye on the clock when doing tasks: university life can give students a lot of free time on their hands, and this can make it harder to prioritise a series of tasks or meet deadlines.
Write down your tasks and divide your time into half-hour chunks. This will let you know exactly what you need to be doing at a given point in the day. Being efficient and ahead of the game will show employers that you can fit into their work environment.
One of the worst things to do on work experience is to finish a task and then sit there waiting for the next job to fall into your lap. This can send out a message that you’re bored, or even worse, lazy.
Make sure you ask if anything needs doing: even if that means filing papers or making cups of tea, at least you’re busy with something. This shows that you don’t mind getting stuck in.
Network with employees
Whilst you’re on work experience, don’t shy away into a corner: make sure you talk to people and pick up as much information from employees about their job and the industry as possible. This shows that you’re keen to learn more, and aren’t just expecting your degree to secure you a job when your internship finishes.
This could be as simple as ‘what kind of things did they ask you in your interview?’ Remember: there is no such thing as a wrong question. Add people on LinkedIn and get as many email addresses as you can lay your hands on – their advice is going to be vital in helping you land the job you want.
Ask for help when you need it
Some people feel awkward asking for help if they don’t understand what they’ve been told to do. Instead of trying to save face and digging a hole for yourself, speak up. That will make your employer more understanding of any mistakes
Admitting to mistakes or a lack of knowledge gives off the impression that you are honest and can easily accept constructive criticism from colleagues.
Ask for more work experience
When your internship ends, it can be tempting to just get a reference from the company and leave it at that – but why not ask for some more work experience?
This gives the impression that you have found the job you want and are determined to get it. You might get the extension you wanted, or even better, a full-time job!
Many interns wouldn’t think to ask for an extension, so you give yourself an advantage by wanting to sign up for more work experience.
We hope you have enjoyed our guide to a successful internship. Who knows, the advice could help you land your dream job!
This has been a guest post by James Archer on behalf of a London based law firm