By Mina Fangrari
It is widely acknowledged that internships are mandatory for undergraduate students to be qualified for the job market, whatever their major may be. It is hard to get an internship but it is not easy to make use of the internship once you land one. Through my different internships, I have noticed that there are many students who can exploit the benefits of their internship wisely and effectively, and there are many others that don’t. Here are some tips that may help you to use your internship to benefit your career and development.
Combine your theoretical studies and knowledge with the practicalities.
In universities, we study only the theoretical information from books, courses or any sources of knowledge which somehow are different from what is really implemented in the real market. Students must compare what they have studied with what is applied. Integrate your knowledge with the know-how. Accept the fact that some of what you’ve learnt is not applied in the real world. However, some other skills are implemented and require effort to transform them from merely memorized words and formulas to tangible and applicable know-how. A survey done by the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows that 91% of respondent employers prefer to hire fresh grads with relevant practical experience.
Be a ubiquitous observer.
Not all information and details will be provided to you directly during your internship period, thus you need to have the ability to observe all the tiny details from everyone, at all times, and everywhere in the work environment. It’s excellent to notice everything happening around you. How things are going? What are the processes? What is the full hierarchy? What are the skills mostly used? What are the means of communication used? That’s why you need to observe, analyze, and evaluate to know the details better.
Prepare a list of questions.
When you are still an undergraduate, you have many inquires about your major and everyday work. This is why it’s vital to formulate questions before your internship so you consult your supervisor during your internship. Also, it will give an indication that you are interested in learning and have passion to know more.
During your internship program, you are going to be exposed to different tasks and perform various assignments that will require multiple skills to be completed. Thus, it will be a good opportunity to ask your supervisors and peers for evaluation so that you can recognize areas in need of improvement and also understand your strengths to use them in your advantage. Your supervisors are more knowledgeable and familiar with the market than you, so when you take an evaluation and feedback based on your performance, this will be a starting point to develop yourself. Interns can divide it into two evaluations. First, continuous evaluation along the period of an internship and on every task completed. Second, final evaluation at the end of an internship to know the intern’s progress and their final comments. Furthermore, it is good to do some self-evaluation to know what progress an intern has achieved. What are the skills, knowledge, experiences, and work ethics gained during your internship? Penny Loretto, Associate Director of the Career Development Center at Skidmore College, mentions that “as interns gets feedback from their employers, they must do self-evaluation.”
Prove your competency.
Your internship is a chance to prove to the employer that you are one of the best people in your major, and they will lose if you did not become one of their team. This can be done by completing your tasks efficiently on-time, catching each opportunity to learn, offering help to your colleagues, saving costs or increasing profits, sharing new ideas and initiatives, and showing distinguished interpersonal skills. By doing this, you are strengthening your potential to be hired in the same organization or recommended by a team member to another organization.
Ask for recommendations.
Penny Loretto, Associate Director of the Career Development Center at Skidmore College also mentions that a “list of recommendations and references is commonly requested by an employer, scholarship or graduate school program.” As a student, internships are your biggest chance to get recommendation letters and recommendations on your LinkedIn profile by your internship’s supervisor. This type of recommendation is considered as a professional reference (recommendation) as the employer highlights your qualities, technical skills, personal skills, qualifications, attitude, and behavior which were witnessed during the internship, so it will be completely trusted.
Keep in touch.
After your internship’s completion, it is recommended to always keep in touch with your managers, supervisors, team leaders, and colleagues as they became part of your network. Additionally, you can get hired on a full-time basis by one the internships’ employers. F. David Fowler Career Center at George Washington University states in a blog that “writing a thank you note, sending an email at least twice a year, offering to get a coffee, or saying congratulations are strategies to keep in touch after the internship ends.” Moreover, never say or mention something negative or bad about them.
Mina Fangrari holds a Bachelor of Science in Logistics and Supply Chain Management from the Arab Academy for Science Technology & Maritime Transport (AASTMT), ranked third in his major. He is the recipient of two fully-funded scholarships from the U.S. Agency for International Development. Mina was previously director of the AAST Entrepreneurship Society. Mina was awarded the Dean’s List (Fall 2018) at the University of the Incarnate Word, Texas, for his academic achievement, and by the Institute of International Education for his academic performance and community service. Mina had many internship experiences at big multinational and national companies in the fields of supply chain, logistics, marketing, and project management. He is a professional soft-skills, entrepreneurship, and critical thinking trainer. He is also the founder of the Prodigy-برودوجي videos program. He studied 720 hours of Professional Skills Training Program at The American University in Cairo. Mina has a TOT in career counseling by Edraak.