5 tips to help you make the most of your internship

Around 8 months ago, I started working at Ducard on a yearlong placement as part on my course at university. At first I was wary that taking a placement for my third year was maybe a mistake, it’s difficult to know what is the right thing to do at any time in your life. But either way, I took the plunge, moved back home from Aberdeen to Barnstaple, moved into a house with my sister and went from a fairly cushti uni life to working 9-5.30 Monday to Friday in an office (well 9-5 on a Friday, woo). It was a little bit scary at first, but now that I am in the swing of things I’m very much enjoying my time, so for anyone out there who is looking for a placement/internship/work experience, here are my five top tips to get the most out of your experience:

1. Learn to say yes

When you first enter a new working environment, you know that everyone is monitoring your every move, and you want to show that you are keen to get involved and eager to learn. One of the best things I’ve learnt so far is to say yes- even if you think that the task in hand is not something you actually know all to much about. On placement, there is always someone on hand to help, and you’ll be surprised how much you can learn simply from giving something a go!

The first time I had to do a meeting alone, I was sure that I would crumble under the pressure and come out feeling terrible. I thought I was off to meet two ladies, and it turned out that there were five of them! After about 5 minutes, I got into the swing of things and felt super confident. When I left the building I was over the moon that it had gone so well!

2. Embark on work outings

I was lucky enough to know half of the team I was going to work with when I first started. However, going on work outings, be it drinks after work, special occasion (or even an SEO conference in our case), helps you to make friends with your team mates, which in turn makes work much more enjoyable! The better you all get on, the more you can learn from one another and rely on them for cups of tea and handy advice!

3. Be organised

From the point of making your applications all the way through to the very last day, organisation is the key to success! The better organised you are the easier it will be to keep on top of your workload. Everyone is different in terms of what works for them, be it writing lists, popping dates and tasks into a diary or organiser or dressing your entire desk with post-it notes! Find something that works for you and stick with it.

I love planners and post-it notes because I have a terrible memory.

4. Create a work to fun balance

As much as it is important to work hard, you need to make sure that you have fun along the way. This is especially important if you are moving somewhere that you may not have many friends. Get out and socialise with your work colleagues at lunchtime or after work, book a trip away with your friends for the weekend or invite the two groups out together. If you are happy in your home life, then you are more likely to be productive at work and be less stressed.

5. Don’t think of yourself as the work experience kid

Although you are the work experience kid, this is the wrong mind-set to have, particularly if you are on a long-term placement as you will be just as much of the team as every other member. You may be a little less experienced than the rest of your team but that doesn’t matter. If you think of yourself as being at the bottom of the food chain it won’t help you to build your confidence and you probably won’t step up to the challenges as much. Act as if this is your first day at a proper job where you need to challenge yourself and work to the best of your ability for the company and you never know, maybe they’ll want to officially hire you at the end!

The important thing is to enjoy the experience and gain a valuable set of skills in practice, even if you decide that this internship isn’t necessarily your chosen career choice there will be so much for you to learn so throw yourself in at the deep end and have fun!

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