Published on October 12, 2017

5 ways you’re holding yourself back at your internship abroad

To make the most of an internship it's crucial to break out of your comfort zone and take advantage of each and every workday. The following are ways that you could be holding yourself back without even knowing. Make sure to follow our tips for internship success to make sure you get the most out of this career-boosting experience.

 

1. You’re being too shy

A brand new foreign office can be an intimidating environment, especially for all the introverts out there. It can be a genuine challenge to make the effort to greet your coworkers when all you want to do is speed through the hall to your desk. However, one of the most important aspects of an internship is gaining professional contacts and learning from your coworkers. The better relationship you have with the people you work with, the more you’re likely to learn and become part of the team. Set yourself a goal of having a conversation with someone new each day at the office. It doesn’t have to be an in-depth discussion, just a casual, friendly conversation about what’s up. These small conversations will go a long way not just in building relationships with your coworkers, but growing as a professional.

 

2. You’re not pushing yourself enough

If you find yourself with hours of extra time each work week to play on the computer and goof off, you may not be reaching your full potential at your internship. Having some down time is totally fine, as long as you’re advancing on projects, learning new skills and thinking critically. If not, mention to your manager that you would be interested in taking on more work or even observing or assisting your coworkers. Remember that this is your experience. Be proactive.

 

3. You’re overworked

On the flip side, it’s also quite possible that you’re taking on too many projects at work. Over-committing yourself can cause a combination of things. For example, the quality of your work can suffer. You also may not be absorbing information as well as you could because you’re preoccupied about turning in all your assignments. If you feel overworked for more than a couple days, it may be time to talk to your manager. Ask to tweak your work load for the time being or even see if they have tips to improve your efficiency at the office.

 

tips for internship success

 

4. You’re being a perfectionist

Any great internship leaves room for mistakes. The point of an internship is to learn by doing, which inevitably means making some errors along the way. Even revered professionals mess up, so it’s important to give yourself a break. If you’re too obsessive about each and every detail, you’ll miss out on the big picture: working hard to be a more competent and international professional.

 

tips for internship success

 

5. You’re too eager to “make an impact"

Millennials are especially known for seeking out positions where they can “make an impact”. Wanting to make a difference at an institution isn’t a bad thing. However, it’s important to be realistic about your internship expectations. Even the most superstar intern at the perfect internship still will struggle to make a lasting impact after just 6 weeks. Making an impact takes a matter of time, which is a limited resource when you’re interning abroad. Instead of obsessing about your impact, focus more on improving your skill set, meeting your deadlines, expanding your network and doing the best job you can on the tasks assigned to you.

 

 

Haven't secured an internship yet? Now that you know our top tips for internship success, apply now to boost your career abroad.

 

Photos

1. based on 20110606-DM-RBN-3908, by U.S. Department of Agriculture, CC-by-ND 2.0

2. based on 日イヅル國ノ, by yosuke watanabe, CC-by-2.0

3. based on YIA Internship Presentation 2017, by Locus Research, CC-by-2.0

The author
Elizabeth Trovall
After short stints in Argentina and Belize, Elizabeth is finishing up her fourth year in Santiago, Chile. Elizabeth writes about international internships, life abroad and professional development for The Intern Group. She also reports on politics, business and culture in Latin America for public radio and print media. An Austin, Texas native, Elizabeth first left home to earn her journalism degree from the Reynolds Institute of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Besides her friends and family, she misses live music and Mexican food the most.

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