How to make the most of an internship

Amy Sillince, self proclaimed worka-shopa-holic and fashion promotion student, gives her views on how to make the most of a graduate internship with a larger corporation and earning yourself a job.

When thinking about what you want to get out of a work experience job, the clue is right there in the name – experience. Above anything else when I am looking for a work placement, I want to know that I’m really going to gain something from the company; whether its skills, knowledge, contacts or another opportunity elsewhere.

When initially looking for an internship, my advice would be to begin by considering what exactly you are looking to learn. Do you just want to see what that kind of job entails? Is there a specific skill you’re looking to learn? Perhaps there’s a company you’ve always dreamed of working for and this could be your way in.

Whatever it is you’re looking to gain from the job, the best way to find out is at the interview. Going for an internship interview can be nerve-wracking, especially for the first time, but it’s important to remember that you’re not just there for the company to decide if they like you. It’s equally important to discover if the internship has what you’re looking for. There are some points that I always like to consider myself when deciding if somewhere is right for me:

– What kind of jobs will I be doing day-to-day?

– Is there any opportunity for me to learn other skills aside from these jobs?

– Can the skills I already have be of use to the company? (You might have the opportunity to impress them)

– What are the working hours and will I be expected to work late?

– How many interns do they have per department? (It’ll be harder to get noticed if they have a lot at one time)

Considering how I’m going to prove myself, get noticed and get remembered by my employers is the most important thing to me. As well as the experience that I personally gain from an internship, I want to be able to say that I offered them something that made me stand out from other interns past, present and future. Four out of my five internships in the past year have asked me to go back and help them again, and two have given me more responsibility than I initially knew I would have, or that I imagined I would ever be given. One of the most exciting things I’ve done for an employer was to use my Photoshop skills to edit an image for Amanda Wakeley, which is now sitting in the window of their flagship store. It gives me something to show for the time I spent working for them and made me feel like a truly valued member of the team.

Ultimately, the biggest piece of advice that I could give to anyone looking to do an internship is to remember that you’re not purely there to make the lives of your employers easier. Although the tasks you do will no doubt help them, above anything they should be making sure that you’re getting something out of the all the help you’re giving them. Make yourself known to your colleagues, actively ask them for jobs to do and explain to them what you’re looking to learn – a good employer will be eager to help you with this.

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