With the number of students vying for internships increasing every year, it has become one of the most difficult jobs to land. It’s almost customary to go through an unpaid internship to get a paid internship, and the meager stipend is nothing to brag about. If you are lucky enough to land one of these internships, your battle begins. The lessons you learn here are going to be about how to survive in a corporate environment, more than your job.
Most interns are not paid or trained for the roles they are to fulfill. If the intern is to perform the role of a regular employee, this is illegal according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (United States Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, 2010).
Less work doesn’t only mean the quantity of work you are assigned, but also the nature of work. Interns are frequently used as administrative assistants, and are given mundane jobs around the office. So, you aren’t getting paid and aren’t getting the work experience you expected either.
Solution: Finish your mundane tasks ASAP, and try to find a task that you enjoy. Finding a task may not be easy, and may require you to build rapport with someone from the department you are interested in.
At times, you may find that you don’t know a few aspects of the job. The question is whether to ask your boss for answers, or to figure it out on your own.
Solution: Try to find a solution on your own. Check the Internet, refer to any guidelines provided by the company, ask your peers, and finally approach your supervisor. Ensure you have a list of all the questions at hand, and suggest solutions. Avoid asking the same question twice. If needed, make a note of the solution.
At first, it may seem like you don’t get along with your boss, or maybe even your peers. Very often, an intern is seen as a temporary employee, and may not be given the appropriate attention.
Solution: Find out the best way to interact with your boss and peers on a personal level. An easy way to do this is to take a break or have a meal together. When talking about work, convey how you can contribute. This would portray an image of someone who wants to be a productive member of the team.
Once your task is complete, your work may not be used. The project may have been canceled, or it may simply be overlooked as inferior quality.
Solution: No work completed is ever a waste of time. Whether your company uses it or not, you can. It can be added to your resume. You can publish it online. Maintain a list of tasks completed and corporate fundamentals learned, even something as small as participation in a project. This will help when you interview for a real job.
After college, where you woke up late and attended a few classes, work, even as an intern can turn your life upside down. After being at work nine to five, you may find yourself going home, eating, showering, and sleeping.
Solution: Do not get into a routine without any excitement. Find a hobby you can pursue, or join colleagues to socialize after work (this would be a great time to build relationships).