I am currently an Events Marketing intern for graduate-jobs.com.

When I first got my internship I was so excited purely for the fact someone was finally giving me a chance. Then I thought "hang on, I will only be an intern, will I get anything out of this?" I'v e got to commute into London, and so on and so on. I took another look at what was to be involved in my internship and this reassured me that I would at least be gaining some good experience.
I generally like to be thoroughly prepared for most situations, so I dove in and read copious amounts of information regarding the company, what to expect, how to dress and what I needed to have with me. So all in all I felt quite prepared for my first week, but what I didn't anticipate was the emotional and psychological responses that starting the internship would have on me. The work itself was fine, but suddenly everything I thought I had been sure of in myself started to waver. With this in mind, I have put together 5 key things that I have experienced so far that I feel would be good to prepare fellow and future interns for …

1. You will feel like you know nothing and that's okay.

As a graduate landing an internship, you will feel a certain degree of confidence in your knowledge and ability. Then you join an established business full time and you soon realise that you have only have a minimal amount of the knowledge that you need. Although this can initially be hard to handle, it then becomes time to accept it and start learning as much as you can in order to gain as much as possible from the experience.

2. The smallest things can go a long way

Occasionally it may seem that the work you're doing isn't hugely significant but you will soon realise that even something you consider to be a somewhat unimportant task such as reformatting a document or doing some filing can make a big difference. It could be that you provided another member of the team with the time to do something essential, or that document you amended ends up being much more effective on a client. It is important not to underestimate the value of the work that you do, how you can contribute to the team and what you can gain from it.

3. Get used to constructive criticism and not knowing better

This may sound negative, but is actually a great lesson (Luckily a module I took at university prepared me somewhat for this.) If you feel like you don't seem to be sailing through everything with flying colours remember that:
  • You are new to the company and it is okay to be playing catch up for a while
  • The workings on an actual company can be vastly different to that project you did at uni.
  • In the end all of this just gets you used to pushing yourself harder to succeed and start to really understand what is expected from you in the working world.

4. You get out what you put in

Like anything, internships are only going to be as successful as you make them. If you push yourself to learn new things and try to immerse yourself into living the working life, then you will be far better prepared when it comes to transitioning to a permanent position. Obviously there are some cases where interns can end up being limited to what you can contribute, but it is also up to you to push those boundaries and try to get as much input as you can. For example, if you feel that what you what you are currently doing is a waste of time, then it most likely will be. So do you leave having gained nothing? Or do you try and turn that around? The choice is yours but you won't be doing yourself any favours if you leave any kind of work experience empty handed.

5. Ask questions

It is important that you get what you need from your internship as much as the employer gets what they need from you, particularly with unpaid internships. If you don't make the effort to learn then you will not get much out of the experience, and this will show when it comes to moving on to a new position when you cannot present good examples within your experience. In showing the initiative to understand new things or coming up with your own suggestions puts you in favour with the employers to lead on to further employment or at the very least to get a glowing reference. I would definitely recommend doing an internship for those of you who are unsure. Paid or unpaid, it can provide valuable experience and discovery for yourself which you can take forward to either a permanent role where you intern or a whole new type of role. It's natural for it to be daunting to begin with. Not only are you trying to fit in to a whole new environment but you also have to learn new skills and feel that you need to prove your worth. Once you've started to get the hang of it and realise that just because you're an intern that doesn't mean that you can't add value to the company, you can focus on developing your skills and find out where your strengths lie going forward.