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10/05/2013

4 Career Tips for the Prospective Intern.

The season of internships and attachments is once again with us. If you're planning to be an intern, here are four things to do before you walk through the door to ensure a successful internship period.

Choose one or two specific projects. Interns are great for project-based work. Anything with a clear beginning, middle, and end is a good place to start — and if that project lasts between four and eight weeks, even better. Don’t take up complex projects that will stretch over along period of time, and your role in such a complex project can be vague and intimidating. 
The more discrete and concrete the project, the easier it is to identify objectives, seek guidance, and measure results. And the better aligned the project is with the overall mission of the organization, the happier you will be — Gen Ys want to know that their work is needed.

Put it in writing. Once you have identified, or discussed with your immediate supervisor what you will be doing, help the supervisor craft a job description for you. Even if you will be working in a company that your parents or relatives own, it's still worthwhile to go through the motions and draft a job description. This will help you identify the goals and objectives of the internship, and determine how you'll measure outcomes and success of the internship period.

Craft your sales pitch. What actual skills will your bring to the job, and the company? Think hard about what you will also get out of eight to 10 weeks of working side by side with your colleagues and supervisors.
What skills and insights will you learn on the job that will help you shape your career path, strengthen your network, or help you decide once and for all whether that career path is the way to go (or not)? How much fun will it be?

Look for a mentor, not a manager. Actively seek out managers and supervisors, who will show you the ropes, make important introductions in th office, find a physical place for you to sit and work, and even go for lunch on day one with you — and providing feedback throughout the internship period. If possible, your mentor should have a weekly or a fortnight one-on –one meeting with you.
 
The best mentor could be a rising star within the company, who is not too senior to be bogged down by responsibilities, but again, not too junior as to be ignored by everyone in the office. As with anything in life, the more effort you put in, the better results you'll get out. Investing time and energy now will set your internship up for success, and possibly set your career path on an upward trajectory.

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