5 Things to Know Before Starting Your First Internship

Did you just score your first internship? Hurray! But before you get to work, here are 5 things you should know before you hit the daily grind.

Updated 08 May 2019

5 Things To Know Before Starting Your First Internship - Feature-Image

You’ve applied for an internship and landed your first professional working gig after going through all the formal processes. Congratulations! But while the euphoria of scoring your first internship is running through your veins, it is also important to make preparations to ensure that all goes well before you hit the daily grind.

Internships are an excellent platform to pick up new skills, network and experience a slice of working life. However, there are other aspects about it that hardly receives notice.

Here, we list 5 things to keep in mind to mentally prepare yourself for your first internship so that you can walk in with your eyes open.

#1. You’ll have to cope with different personality types

5 Things To Know Before Starting Your First Internship - 1 You’ll have to cope with different personality types

In life, we are bound to encounter people with different characters and the same can be said about work. While you may find yourself working with friendly and helpful colleagues, there is also a possibility that you might encounter those who aren’t. And when you do, you need to be prepared.

Similar to the challenges of working with different individuals for group assignments in college, work can throw you taxing personalities too. The key thing to remember is to stay calm and be respectful to all colleagues. Minimise your interaction with them whenever possible.

If things get difficult, try speaking to your supervisor about the situation. Alternatively, find support or advice from friendly colleagues or friends when the going gets tough.

#2. Patience is key

5 Things To Know Before Starting Your First Internship - 2 Patience is key

In some internships, students may find themselves doing menial tasks such as photocopying papers and binding reports over a long period, which can be boring and repetitive.

And while some internships enable you to learn and complete more tasks over time, there are instances where interns may find themselves with nothing to do.

If you’re stuck in such a situation, consider making yourself useful by asking your colleagues or supervisor how you can help them. By being proactive, there’s a chance for you to pick up extra skills and knowledge in addition to leaving a good impression on your teammates upon completing your internship.

#3. It is human nature to make mistakes

5 Things To Know Before Starting Your First Internship - 3 It is human nature to make mistakes

Mistakes are inevitable, and the same is true for an intern who is new in the workplace and unfamiliar with the company’s nature of business and practices.

For example, making a blunder such as including outdated information in a promotional ad and sending it out for print can cost your company big money.

Despite making a nail-biting gaffe, remember not to brood over your mistake. Avoid pointing fingers at others, apologise where necessary and work quickly to rectify your mistake.

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#4. Learn from bad experiences

5 Things To Know Before Starting Your First Internship - 4 Learn from bad experiences

Some internships may be riddled with challenges. This could range from working with unpleasant individuals to finding yourself making careless mistakes at work, which can cause others to undermine everything you do. But keep your chin up!

Some of the best lessons in our life can come from negative experiences. For example, having to reprint hundreds of promotional ads after failing to spot a typo in the material can teach you to pay more attention to detail in the future. As the proverb goes, “Measure twice, cut once”.

Or, working under a perfectionist superior can be frustrating at times but the experience can also teach you to strive for excellence in all areas of work in the future.

#5. Savour the moment

5 Things To Know Before Starting Your First Internship - 5 Savour the moment

Your internship can be among your most memorable experiences in life! Regardless of what lies ahead, remember to savour the moment. Your internship is a time for you to learn what cannot be taught in the classroom, or a chance for you to apply what you have learnt in the real world.

For example, if you are interning as a writer at a fashion magazine, relish in the fact that your published work can be used to build your portfolio instead of dwelling on the negative aspects, such as the long hours or your editor’s high expectations of you.

It is also important to use your time as an intern to develop relationships with your mentor or colleagues to understand more about the industry and nature of the work.

At the end of the day, any good or less-than-pleasant internship experience is an opportunity for you to learn and grow. Remember not to be too hard on yourself – internships are learning experiences, after all. And don’t stop at one internship – complete several if you can to build your experience and knowledge in your chosen field!

Stress is part and parcel of college life, especially when you’re balancing classes, co-curricular activities and internships. Check out how you can better manage stress as a student here!

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    Yasmin Ahmad Kamil

    Yasmin Ahmad Kamil

    Writer and editor. When she's not juggling work, Yasmin enjoys hiking and basking in nature's glory.