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Column: Internships can take you from clueless wannabe to landing that job

Internships are like extended job interviews – so adjust your attitude accordingly, writes Julia Purcell.

Julia Purcell

HOLLYWOOD MOVIE ‘THE Internship’ hit our screens this month, glamorising one of the business world’s most sought after internships while making fun of the plight of two 40-year olds who land a student’s dream job – internships at Google.

Whilst the shenanigans of the film’s main two stars might make for some great entertainment, in real life internships/work placements are serious business for those embarking on their careers.

Gone are the days of college students waltzing into their first permanent job with just a degree under their belt; work experience is now one of the key elements to landing your first job and an internship is one of the best ways for garnering such experience.

Scene from the new movie The Internship (Via YouTube)

Whilst becoming more common in Ireland, many people are sceptical of internships due to the bad reputation they’re getting – ‘interns are taken advantage of as free labour’ being a common opinion.  But speaking as someone who undertook a three month unpaid internship and secured a full-time paid position at the end, I can only speak highly of the experience I had.

Looking back, the reason I undertook an internship was to test the water.  I wasn’t 100 per cent sure of my abilities or what career direction I wanted to take and my internship with Sigmar Recruitment gave me the opportunity to try out the business world.  I was also in the typical young-person-seeking-job scenario where each job advertisement I saw featured that sentence ‘1-2 years’ experience required’, something I didn’t have.

Opportunity

An internship was an opportunity for me to gain this experience and it also gave me a chance to prove myself for a position that I would not have qualified for, had the role been advertised.

Now I’m not going to lie, an internship is not easy. I wasn’t getting paid and to top matters off I wasn’t working close to home, in fact I was travelling from Kilkenny to Dublin each day.  But in saying that, the on-the-job experience I gained was invaluable.  Yes, there were times I was stuck doing monotonous tasks but there were also times I was involved in fascinating projects. Being completely honest I didn’t know exactly what I was doing half the time but that’s the purpose of an internship: to learn! So how did I go from clueless wannabe to landing a job I love?

Here’s how…

Take it seriously

The best way to describe an internship is that it’s an extended job interview, so adjust your attitude accordingly.  No matter how small a task you’re asked to do, do it well. Never act as though a task is too pointless or tedious, it’s all experience that you can add to your CV at the end of the day.  And once you’re seen to be competent with the smaller tasks you’ll gradually be given more and more important tasks.

Work hard

Might seem like an obvious one but genuinely work you socks off.  When given a deadline, try to beat it.  When given a project, go above and beyond.  Exceed expectations wherever possible and leave your manager with a positive impression of you as a worker.

Take on as much as you can

It’s simple: the more you do, the more you have to show for your internship. If at points you find yourself idle, don’t just sit there and wait for your manager to give you tasks, ask for them. Also, if you hear of projects taking place that you are interested in, ask if you can help out.

Ask questions

Finally don’t be afraid of asking questions. You’re new to the working world and you’re not expected to know everything.  If you’re unsure of how to do something, ask for help – how else will you learn?

Julia Purcell is Marketing Executive at Sigmar Recruitment.

Read: JobBridge: 3 out of 5 interns secure paid employment>

Column: Unable to find work in Ireland, I had no choice but to leave>

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Julia Purcell

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