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How to Make the Most of Your Internship
Monday, May 07, 2012

The truth about internships in today's job market is that they seem more like free labor than an even exchange of time and personal resources for valuable experience. For the lucky ones, some form of compensation might be included.

For most interns, however, the internship is more than about gaining experience. In the end, what they really hope for is a job prospect that, unfortunately, may never come.

As much as we all wish, bills and hunger don't cease for internships. When considering all the necessary costs we already have to pay for just to survive and topping them with the additional expenses of the internship (transportation, attire, etc.) it almost doesn't seem worth it.

Before ruling internships out or throwing in the towel, keep in mind that it isn't uncommon for interns to stay with the company after it ends. In fact, many who bond or make a good impression on their supervisors are more than likely given the opportunity for a paid position. Remember that this is something you have to work for and earn.

1) What does this internship mean to you?

Think about your reasons for wanting to intern at this company or organization in the first place. Is because you favor the industry, want a certain skill, or simply want varied experience on your resume? Whatever your reasoning, make it clear before you apply so that if you're accepted, your choices throughout the internship will be influenced by your ultimate career goal.

2) Work like you're being paid.

It's easy for interns to shirk their duties when they aren't getting anything tangible in return for it. The problem with this is that the reward is based on your supervisor's impression of you. They'll be paying close attention to level of work performance and can easily tell apart the interns who are slacking from the those who are pulling their weight.

3) Remain a team player.

Internships like most things work-related are competetive environments where you want to outshine the other candidates. Professional competitions should always be light-hearted, it's all about the best man winning. You want to get to know as many people as you can during your internship to make valuable networking connections. Keep your career in mind while forming relationships with peers, colleagues and especially the veterns of the company who can help you get your career started.

4) Get some feedback.

This may seem difficult to do but it shows that you care about the quality of your work. This feedback can help you improve on things you may not have been aware of thus allowing you to outshine the competition. Plus, it doesn't hurt to get insight to his or her impression of you and make it even better. Supervisors appreciate that.

5) Become a social investigator.

Aside from learning what your supervisor thinks of you, strike up conversations with your co-workers and learn about their beginnings. Showing an interest in their opinion will get them interested in your future plans. Ask them for advice and from that point they'll more than likely offer any help that they think will benefit your goals and interests. 

Of couse, no matter what always have humility when working (even if unpaid) for an organization and its employees that could influence your career. When people take time to help you or do you a favor make sure that your thanks are sincere. People who sense your appreciation won't hesistate to return another nice gesture, say, something as nice as a job offer.
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