Business is changing at a fast pace
The way business works is changing. Business disruption is now not a new term. New world is replacing old world and IT-enabled services are changing the way traditional business works. An internship experience exposes you to this real-world environment. Getting an internship (or more than one internship) is a great way to quickly add depth to your profile. With internships, you can apply what you’ve learned as part of your studies and you can quickly boost your understanding of business dynamics and the modern workplace.
Transition from uni to the workplace
The transition for many students from uni to the workplace is tough. From waking up at noon to waking up at the crack of dawn (or earlier if you live out in the suburbs and commute to the city). Internships can help to get you ready for the workplace and they help you to build positive routines which will assist your transition from uni to paid employment. The transition for many students is not only about when you wake up and when you sleep, but about what to wear at the workplace, transitioning from casual communication to business communication, email etiquette, managing meetings and much more. An internship exposes you to new experiences and helps you to build a solid foundation so you can make a successful transition to the workplace.
Understand what your competencies are
The way we work is rapidly changing. “Flexiwork” is the new term now because employers want to see you as an “owner” and not just someone who completes tasks at work. Understanding your competencies is an important factor in relation to this. “Competence” is the ability to do something successfully or efficiently. See the list of key competencies below and ask yourself how your skills stack up. Understanding yourself is the first step, acting on where you need to improve is the second step. Completing an internship before you start your first job is a great way to better understand yourself and identify your competency gaps so you can improve.
Mark your competency scores below ( 1= Low, 5 = High)
Agility – Are you able to move quickly through challenges and deal with whatever comes your way?
Communication – What you speak and write and how you speak and write matters, but knowing when not to speak is also important. As is understanding non-verbal cues.
Problem Solving – The workplace is not always straightforward. Disaster is bound to strike when you least expect and getting into critical thinking mode and quickly finding solutions to problems is what employers want, rather than people who just constantly talk about the problems.
Collaboration – In today’s world, collaboration goes beyond borders. You could be collaborating with a team internally within your organisation or you could be working
with people on the other side of the world. Get to know the strengths and weaknesses of your stakeholders so you can get the best out of each collaboration.
Ownership (or Intrapreneurship) – This is about the employee behaving like a business owner, taking full control and responsibility for their own work, owning their actions, successes and failures.
Negotiation – This is not just about contracts with clients, customers or suppliers. Negotiations happen every day in the workplace. For example, you may need to negotiate deadlines, salary, bonuses, or even your workload. As an intern, you need to start learning the art of negotiating. You may need to negotiate with internal departments or your own supervisor. Keep in mind “BATNA” always – this is your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. Knowing your BATNA will help you to negotiate better outcomes.
Creativity – As an intern, you have that spark and enthusiasm. Companies are always looking for that new idea and that igniting spark. Be seen and heard during your internship. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and ideas. Internships can be an important stepping stone to your career success and can lead to other valuable professional opportunities.
It’s a global game
Business today is global. Multinationals have teams working across various geographic zones. Companies outsource many aspects of their business and an internship can provide you with a solid understanding of how you need to work across borders, across cultures and across time zones. This valuable work experience gained as part of your internship will allow you to think more broadly and, as you step into the workplace, you will have a greater insight into what direction you would like your career to move into.
No risk, no reward
My last tip is, as some say, where there is no pain, there is no gain. You must sow first to reap rewards and internship experiences are an investment in your future career. No investment is risk-free, but there is no better time to take the leap than at the start of your career. Make the most of your internship experiences – I would even recommend completing more than one internship experience. You should consider international internships experiences as well, because they can provide you with extraordinary experiences, skills and knowledge outside of your home country.
“The only source of knowledge is experience” – Albert Einstein