Things you should know about your first internship


In today’s competitive graduate market it is incredibly difficult to land a graduate position without having internship experience on your resume. The purpose of an internship is to learn about the organisation and the work they do, to gain industry experience and try to secure a graduate position.

What should I try to get out of my first internship?

An internship is a great opportunity to learn new skills that you’ll be able to use as a graduate and to prove your worth to an organisation with the hope of securing a graduate position at the end of it. Even if the graduate position doesn’t eventuate at that organisation an internship on your resume greatly increases your chances of getting a graduate job elsewhere.

During an internship you should be considering whether this organisation and industry is where you think you’d like to work as a graduate and somewhere you could build your career. You should try to learn as much as possible about the business and the types of work your team does. Ask lots of questions because it’s the best way to learn from others and you’re not expected to already know everything.

As best as possible you should build relationships with your colleagues. Especially if there are other interns you should make friends with them because only they will truly understand your intern life problems. During your internship you should build your network and connect with your colleagues over LinkedIn so you can keep in touch.

What will people expect of me?

As an intern you’re generally coming straight out of Uni into your first professional environment. Nobody expects you to be an expert in your field or to know all the answers. The best interns have an enthusiastic attitude, are helpful to their team members, listen when people are teaching them and are able to pick things up quickly.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a good manager or team members people will spend a lot of team to teach you how to do things that they could’ve done much faster themselves. So it’s important to be able to find ways to help out your team and save them time in others ways. For example everybody loves it when interns have good computer skills and are able to help them out with administrative or data driven tasks and make their lives easier.

What will I be doing all day?

Over your first week as an intern you’ll likely spend a lot of time meeting new people, setting up your computer and work station and reading about the organisation and what your team does. I know the reading can be very boring and you may feel like you want to fall asleep at the desk because you’re not used to waking up so early, but try to seem interested and absorb as much as you can.

As rude as it may be sometimes people may ask you to do coffee runs and as long as they’re giving you the money to pay for the coffee order you’re better off agreeing to do it and coming across as helpful and friendly.

Typically the tasks you’ll be allocated will gradually increase in difficulty. The first types of tasks you are usually given can be tedious and administrative in nature, but if you perform these tasks well you will begin to gain trust from your team members resulting in more interesting and challenging tasks allocated to you in the future. So just make sure you take those initial simple tasks seriously in order to build your credibility.

What do I do if I run out of work to do?

Sometimes you might run out of work to do. When you do run out of work the best way to approach this is to ask your manager or team members if you can help them out with anything. This shows you’re enthusiastic and you don’t end up caught lazily sitting around doing nothing.

However sometimes managers and team members won’t be able to think of something for you to do, maybe because they are busy or because they also don’t have any work to do. So after you’ve brought the fact to their attention and they’re aware you’re keen for new tasks avoid constantly badgering them about the fact that you have no work. You’ll need to come up with a way to occupy yourself and seem busy. Often a good way to do this is reading up on the company, teaching yourself something new on excel or online learning modules.

Good luck with your internship and make the most of the opportunity!