You just started your 6-month internship, but you are feeling a bit uneasy because you are constantly wondering and reminded of the fact that in 6 months, you might be unemployed. This is a very big possibility if you do not step up on day one. Companies do not want deadweight. They hired you because they think you have the potential; it is your job to prove them right.
I am not saying go in there and be perfect. That C-level executive started somewhere, probably through an internship just like you. They made big mistakes, maybe even expensive ones. But whatever happens, you must always be willing to learn. Do not confuse confidence with arrogance, which is what most graduates do. Yes, you need to step out of your shell, be what the company needs, maintaining the right attitude. There are several reasons why interns do not get job offers. Firstly, you do not seek feedback, you automatically assume that you are the crème of the crop. You are not proactive, you do not speak up, you think coming in, doing your job, and leaving is just enough. There is some lack of professionalism, and you refuse to take part in any projects or initiatives. Stop that!
Realise the value of that internship. Do not lose sight of your goals and be uncomfortable for 6 months or a year, to be comfortable when you do sign that job offer. Build your brand and professional reputation; that way, your name will be mentioned in spaces and places you could never have imagined.
There are a couple of things you can do to secure your spot in the organisation. You might have to go an extra mile here and there, but the goal is to sign that contract, so why not?
Try to fit in.
Yes, we encourage going out there and being different, and unique. But that certainly does not mean being so off track that you do not fit in with the overall company culture. Companies take their culture and values very seriously, so should you. Do some research so you have a clearer understanding of the company’s mission and objectives. This will help you feel a bit more comfortable and give you an idea of the kind of people and personalities you will be working with. You will then decide if you fit in or if you should make some changes.
Remain on track. Follow the rules!
I do not know what they say about rebels and the ones always breaking rules. Do not go in there and try to be the cool kid. You work for an organisation that has policies and procedures in place to govern operations. Follow them. If work starts at 8 am, it starts at 8 am, not ten minutes past 12. Respect the workplace, you owe it that much. After all, for the duration of the internship, it writes your checks.
Stroke their egos.
Your first assignment when you get that role is to find out who makes the decisions or who influences the decision-makers. Keep those people close. Impress them and exceed their expectations. This is where relationship building comes in. Professionally engage with your mentors by establishing strong communication and checking in regularly. Do not allow them to forget you, remind them of your existence every little chance you get. Before that internship ends, your job will be secure.
Be a part of the organisation.
Never work in isolation. Be a part of the team and show that you are invested in the success of the company. Demonstrate initiative and stand out as an intern by finding professional development opportunities that will benefit both you and the company. Show interest in other departments and if you are interested, ask how you can expand your skills. Take on additional work, management loves to see this.
When you sent out that application, you said one of your skills was problem-solving. Prove it! Mentors like innovative thinkers. Your solution might not work, but the fact that you tried puts you 10 steps ahead of your competition. This will show your unique value as an employee, and you will definitely become a memorable intern.
What makes you different is that, among other candidates, you managed to secure the internship. What you do with that is absolutely up to you. It can be the most dreadful experience depending on your attitude and the overall work environment. It can also be pleasant mainly because of how you carry yourself.
Take up space – Zozibini Tunzi. You owe yourself that much.