Scholarship Series: Alexa on how to make the most of a short term internship
These aren’t tips to impress your boss or ways to spin the experience you gain to sound more impressive. These are ways I found to enjoy my time at work, grow personally and professionally, and make a difference in this company while I’m here for my short term internship.
1. Form personal relationships with boss(es) and coworkers.
Be friends with as many people you work with as you can! This will make a huge difference in how happy you find yourself at work, even though you are only there for a short term internship. You don’t have to have anything in common with them. You certainly don’t have to spend time with them outside of work. But eat lunch with them if it’s possible. Laugh at their jokes. Take interest in the things that interest them. Celebrate their victories even if you weren’t part of making them happen! I looked forward to going to work once I was friends with my coworkers because I was genuinely happy to spend time with them.
2. Learn as much as you can about your company before and during your internship.
I know this tip sounds like its purpose is to make you seem like a dedicated employee. Truthfully, the more informed you are about something, the more invested in it you become. You can’t help it! My internship is with a charity called TLC for Kids. Before coming here, I didn’t know anything about Australia’s healthcare system and I’d never worked with sick children before. My intended career also has nothing to do with healthcare or children. But as I learned more about the work that TLC for Kids does, I became passionate about it nonetheless. This made even the smallest tasks feel meaningful and important, and I was excited to do everything I could to help.
3. Make your workspace comfortable.
Decorating my office wasn’t a priority for me and it almost seemed like a waste of time. Then, one day, I brought in a few things to get a cute little office photo (no judgement please) and it made a big difference in how I felt at work! When you sit in a place for 8 hours per day, even if it’s only for a 6, 8, or 10 week internship, it needs to be comfortable. Adding a small plant, photos from home, colorful office supplies, or even some snacks can go a long way. If your office is cold, have a blanket you keep on your lap or a space heater to warm you up. If it’s hot, get a small fan. Having art around you can also help encourage creativity, because it makes your work environment more engaging. Even though it’s a short term internship, you can still make your workspace feel like home.
4. Wake up earlier.
This was a hard realization for me to come to. At college, I typically wake up about 15 minutes before I need to leave. That gives me time to do the bare minimum to get ready and, surprise surprise, I’m still groggy during my first class. For this internship experience, though, I found that getting up early enough to calmly and completely get ready for the day (as well as eating a good breakfast) simply made me feel better. For me, this is about 45 minutes to an hour. Will I continue this habit back into the school year? Probably not. But for now I am more alert, focused, and in a better mood at work.
5. Try not to have any expectations.
It’s hard not to imagine what your internship will be like before you begin. It’s really best not to form expectations because adventures like these simply can’t be accurately predicted! If you go in with expectations, you could start out feeling overwhelmed or possibly unappreciated. Have an open mind, and go in on your first day ready to hit the ground running. Your short term internship is what you make it, and you’ll get out what you put in!
Learn more about how to do a short term internship abroad.