8 things I learnt as an intern

So you got yourself an internship and you realise that this is the career ladder you want to climb to the very top. Or maybe I should say mountain, since a ladder only has space for one person.

A mountain, however,  is meant to be climbed with others and is much more fun than climbing a ladder, right? You see where I'm going with this...

I was privileged enough to score an internship opportunity, here at W24 and it has been a very useful experience. So much so that I want to share some of the things I have learnt so far.

Hopefully it will help those of you who are at sea.

1. Its okay to ask questions

If you’re not sure about something or don’t know how to do something, ask.

You're an intern - people don’t expect you to know everything. So use this as an opportunity to get more knowledge. But remember, asking how to do simple tasks over and over is not okay. Take notes! All the time.  

'Many students think that internship mainly consists of making coffee and running errands for superiors all day."

2. Networking is important 

You’re boss enough to have landed an internship so don’t underestimate yourself. Make sure you make the most of it and take advantage of all the opportunities that come with it. 

Also, unglue yourself from your desk every once in a while and get to know other interns. Not only will you end up creating great memories and making friends, but you will widen your professional network.

Be proactive, and if you are invited to work functions introduce yourself to people, it’s the only way people will know who you are and what you’re all about and most importantly - remember you.

Read more: Why I regret not taking a gap year

3. Take constructive criticism well

Naturally, no one likes to be criticised and performance evaluations can be quite scary.

I have made a few mistakes and have received constructive criticism about my work from both my colleagues and my boss and I always remind myself that it’s not personal. It is for my own good and growth and it will improve the quality of my work. 

"Being able to work independently on your own with little guidance is very important in the working world."

4. You’re more important than you think

Even though I’m at the bottom of the career ladder, I’ve realised that I’m also needed and my basic work is appreciated. (Very much so, Phumela - Ed's note)

5. How to apply my skills

Many students think an internship mainly consists of making coffee and running errands for superiors all day but that is not true. And really, it shouldn't be like that.

An internship is an opportunity to test out all the skills we developed in varsity/college and see how they work in the real world.

With my internship I have gotten an idea of what my biggest strengths are, as well as areas of improvement I should work on.

6. Independence

Often, we think being spoon-fed is the way to we learn, but working independently has proved to be very important.

My time at W24 has taught me to make my own decisions and do things on my own.

Being able to work independently with little guidance is very important in the working world.

Read more: New ruling: commuting time counts as labour time

7. Work hard no matter what you’re doing

Always work hard even if your task is small and seems unimportant. It will help you build a good work ethic, and people will notice the effort you put in. 

It's not nice being told what to do all the time, but your superior(s) know better (mostly) and following the rules and instructions they give you makes it easier for everyone.

8. Enjoy your job

I think the most important thing is to enjoy what you do. I look forward to coming to work everyday because I’m doing something I have passion for.

I’ve had part-time jobs before but this is the first job where I feel like I am a part of a team and not some under-qualified intern. 

I have grown both as an intern and as a person and I’m grateful for the opportunity and to my team. Both for taking their time to teach me about the industry, and for always making me feel welcome and valued.

Final thought?

Intern life can be tough, and you only get a short time to make a lasting impression.

However, it is a great opportunity to gain experience, make friendships and learn. So work hard and enjoy your internship!

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