Taking an internship role is a proactive way to upskill in your area of practice and gain that all important “previous experience” that so many companies state they require in the job description. I joined Veran Performance as a Marketing and Events Intern and, following a positive and productive experience, I have just accepted the offer to join the team on a Full-Time basis. I am sharing my key takeaways to help interns and managers understand both sides of the coin to make the most of an internship.
For hiring managers
1. Keep open lines of communication.
It is not about what you say, it’s how you say it and the environment you say it in. Interns are often told “there is no such thing as a stupid question” and that you can “ask any time if you need help”, but this can only happen if the right environment is created, communication platforms are clearly marked and the tone on emails and calls are right. This enables your interns to feel comfortable and confident to ask questions when they need help, therefore completing their tasks on time and to a better standard.
Due to the pandemic, I had to start my internship while working from home which meant understanding communication lines were even more important than before. I had regular contact with my manager, which made it easy to settle in despite not being in the office and I noted my questions ahead of each meeting to ensure I was equipped with the right knowledge and tools to complete my activities.
2. Give us meaningful tasks.
For each task I was assigned during my internship, it was explained to me how completion of the activity would impact and benefit the business. This enabled me to push myself, engage with the task at hand, demonstrate and develop my skills and complete the task to a higher standard.
3. Avoid micromanaging!
Another great thing about my internship with Veran was that I wasn’t micromanaged. An internship is supposed to allow development and growth; I was given the task, the tools, and the details, and allowed to let loose to produce some ideas or a first draft (depending on the activity). We would then re-group as a team to review and redraft until we got to the final product. The process gave me the opportunity to learn the business’s way of working as well as refine and develop my skills and capability. Constantly having someone looking over your shoulder can be disheartening and doesn’t inspire confidence or creativity.
4. Keep us involved.
During my internship I was included in a wide range of meetings and activities that were not always related to my role. Just listening to the conversations gave me a better understanding of the business and how it operated, the opportunity to meet more of the team, and exposure to the language and “jargon” that is often used in the industry that I had not experienced before.
1. Experience isn’t everything.
The reason I was able to secure this internship was NOT because I had the most experience, it was because of my enthusiasm and a strong desire to learn. There were a lot of things I didn’t know, but my manager thoroughly explained everything and helped me fill in any skill-gaps along the way.
2. Ask your questions.
Obvious, but very important. Asking questions when you don’t understand something or want to further your knowledge is important to help you understand both your role and the company better. It’s not always easy to ask for fear of looking stupid, but it will benefit you in the long run. For me, my manager made it very clear from the beginning, not just through her words, but also her actions that it was okay to ask her anything if I needed help, which made me much more comfortable asking questions and sharing my ideas. Even if you feel silly you need to ask your questions anyway. Take your learning into your own hands!
3. Use your initiative!
As I previously stated, you need to take your learning into your own hands. As important as it is to ask when you need help, you should also try to handle things on your own (if it’s possible). If you’re stuck on the task at hand, try searching for some tips online or YouTube; putting forward some possible solutions is much better than an empty sheet. Perhaps you’ve completed your tasks and you have an hour to kill; I used that time to plan ideas related to my role, like suggesting some blog titles and researching interesting social media content, or even brush up on skills I wanted to improve such as using Adobe software.
4. Research things you want to learn and ask if they can teach you, even if it wasn’t advertised.
One of the main reasons I applied for this internship was because what was written in the job descriptions aligned with what I wanted to learn. It came across as a place where I would have an in-depth learning experience which luckily for me, I did. If you’re in a position that didn’t explicitly state something that you wanted to learn, ask! It not only highlights your interest in the company and the field you are working in but your eagerness to broaden your skillset and learn.
I have gained a lot of valuable skills and experience while interning, thanks to the opportunities I was given to contribute to the business. Only by working hard and collaborating effectively can you get the most out of your internship experience.
If you’d like to know more about my internship, learn about our free myHRcareers Network, or are interested in HR & Finance Transformation, you can email me at Khadijat.Opeloyeru@veranperformance.com