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Looking for an internship? Here’s what to expect.

Meld Magazine

Fri May 23 2014

Prepare for internship interview

AS the winter holiday approaches, you may be thinking about applying for an internship to make the most of your break. Chrisella Sentena looks into a few do’s and don’ts to kickstart your application.

If you are looking for an internship – either in Australia or in your home country – you may wonder if the long hours and low pay (if at all) is worth it. Here are a few do’s and don’ts you may want to consider when taking that first step.

Do think about your networks

The most random of connections can be incredibly useful when looking for internships and work.

Take RMIT entrepreneurship student, Carlson. He was pressed for time to find an internship which was part of a university placement. After an extensive search, he managed to score an interview with a property company his father’s acquaintance owns.

The interview was unexpectedly conducted by an acquaintance of his who worked at the McDonald’s near his apartment. She happened to be the owner’s daughter, and was interning at the company. Her responsibilities included helping with the recruitment of interns. He got the job.

Do prepare for your interviews

Prepare for internship interview

There is nothing worse than freezing up in front of your interviewers. Conduct research about the company’s background and recent activities. Demonstrate that you are not simply after an internship, but also understand what the company is about and what they are looking for.

Do appreciate your internship

It is easy to get stuck in a rut when the work assigned to you is more challenging than expected. Or on the other end of the spectrum, getting coffee orders and answering phones may not be what you signed up for. Maybe you are undertaking your 4th internship in the same industry. There is always something new to pick up learn.

After 5 internships and part-time stints in the media and advertising industry, Hadi Ismanto conceded there were some good experiences, while others were not quite on par with his expectations. Nevertheless, he kept a good attitude.

“The observation experience was really valuable, especially in what I wanted to do as soon as I graduated,” he said.

Broadcast journalist Sumisha Naidu also said each internship she decided to take on was valuable.

“Every internship I’ve done has taught me something – even the ones where I sat around doing nothing for most of it. One internship did lead to a job offer and the others gave me invaluable connections and friendships,” she said.

Don’t judge the company by its size

There is no correlation between the size of the company and the value of an internship.

Steve is a civil engineering student who is a year shy of graduation. To gain some experience, he started working as an informal intern for a major engineering company in Indonesia. He was shocked that his employer had only asked him to schedule appointments and to conduct research on a publishing company. The data he collated was never used.

In contrast, when he interned for a relatively new architecture company, he gained hands-on experience.

“I was expected to tag along to the construction site during my time as an intern. I could finally apply the things I’ve learnt at Uni and it was interesting how application and theory is different in real life,” Steve said.

Don’t expect to apply everything you’ve learned in your studies to your internship

Appreciate your internship

Arian was a science student at the University of Melbourne who majored in Physiology. He applied for an internship at the Melbourne Neuropsychiatric Centre at the University of Melbourne for fun, and was accepted.

“I was helping them out with research. It really didn’t have anything to do with my degree, and I didn’t know much about neuropsychiatry – but that was probably the best internship I’ve done. I’ve learnt so much about working in a research environment in my short time there,” he said.

Students often apply for internships that are directly related to what they’re studying. Sometimes, getting a taste of something unrelated to your industry of choice is a good way to broaden your opportunities.

Most importantly, do remember to stay calm and don’t pressure yourself too much!

An internship is a learning experience. There will be other internships in the future – and the one that you are currently applying for, or are already in, does not have to be The Perfect One.

As an intern, you are there to learn about the company’s culture and get a glimpse of the industry you may hope to carve a career in. Do your best, and no matter the outcome, it will still be a learning experience.

Have you had any memorable internship experiences? Share with us in the comments box below!