By Nick Gidwani
This is a guest post from SkilledUp.com – the Internet’s leading source of information on online courses, with over 60,000 courses from over 200 providers available in every subject. Find online courses at SkilledUp.com, and visit us on Facebook and Twitter.
After a semester of applications and interviews, your hard work has paid off and you scooped up the internship of your dreams! Congratulations! According to Vault.com, you are now part of the 86% of college students who participate in internships. But have you thought of what skills you hope to learn from your internship and how to get the most of it?
If you said no, you are not alone. Most people are just happy to have landed an internship and are just hopeful it will go well. Your internship is a crucial opportunity for you to gain substantive experience in your desired field of expertise, and start building the skill set required for your future career. To get the most of your internship, you need to be proactive and devise a plan to extract as much value from it as you can.
If you landed an internship with McKinsey or Goldman Sachs, chances are your internship program will be quite structured in terms of training, skill development, and application of knowledge. However, not all internships are equal in terms of structure and content. Believe it or not, many internships lack any structure at all. If you are unlucky you may end up an errand boy or gal Friday, essentially a glorified albeit temporary admin for odd jobs around the office.
Fear not! With a proactive attitude and a little preparation you can turn a potentially unstructured internship that may or may not give you the skills you need into the “Skillternship” that is guaranteed to give you the exact skills training you need to advance your career.
The following steps can help add structure and content to any internship, even it comes with its own pre-set plan.
- Research & Strategize. Probably by now you have done some research in the field of your internship. Now its time for a second pass. Do a deep dive and find out what are the important responsibilities, tasks, and skills, of an expert in your field. Come up with a list of 5-10 skills that are crucial to success in this field.
- Evaluate & Set Goals. Now that you have a list of important skills you hope to build or improve on, give yourself and honest evaluation in each area in the form of a letter grade. In addition, to the grade list some discreet activities you hope to be competent in. For instance, if data analysis one of your desired skills, you may want to list pivot tables and chart generation discreet skills you hope to acquire. Online courses are now widely available, giving you an opportunity to build a base of knowledge in topics ranging from content marketing to blogging.
- Collaborate & Plan. If you have the means, contact an expert in your field to see if you missed any crucial points. If you can’t that’s okay, because during your first week of work, you are going to meet with your new boss, and tell him or her about your aspirations and plans to develop specific job skills during your internship. Don’t be afraid to speak candidly to your boss. They were once in your shoes and will be impressed by your ambition, and it will set you apart from your fellow interns. Now that you have wowed your boss, the two of you can work together to come up with a concrete plan to develop all the skills you have researched and more. The more detailed your plan is, the better it will serve you. Set up learning tasks, reading assignments, and exercises to apply each skill. Set dates for key tasks and milestones.
- Assess & Fine Tune. You will be interacting with your boss on a daily basis, but your internship is short and you need to make the most of it. Meet with your boss on a weekly basis to measure performance and improvement. Perhaps, certain skills will require more attention and extra work. While you have set a plan, it is important to be flexible. You may have the opportunity to learn even more than you anticipated.
Sounds kind of like a college curriculum, doesn’t it? Well if you get an A in this class, you will be setting yourself up for a successful career! A National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) study shows that 60% of paid and 37% of unpaid internships convert to jobs offers. Once you have scored an internship, don’t rest on your laurels and passively experience your internship. Get proactive and increase your likelihood of receiving one of those job offers!
Follow these simple and easy steps, and you are guaranteed to get the most out your internship and build the skills that will get you on your way to being an expert in your dream job!
Search through our internships here and start putting these steps to test!