Make Them Tea
& Other Top Secret Intern Tips
Almost a year ago I wrote about my musings over a graduate application.
Back then I thought things were tough. There I was, plugged into my computer, working on my dissertation whilst job searching whilst watching the summer go by without me.
And all I was receiving in return for my sometime twelve page applications was The Silence of Doom.
However, those Silences (and my indefatigable mother) pushed me out into the whole ‘go forth and make contacts’ stage, which is where we left off with the advice all graduates should heed: PERSEVERE. Don’t give up. Be hungry.
It worked – a month after that blog I was living in London, finishing my dissertation, and commencing an internship. I’ve now been a full-time part of the team for nearly nine months. So with my siblings and the class of 2015 getting ready for graduation, I thought now is the time to talk about what happens after the Silence of Doom?
What comes next when everything goes right?
What do you do when you end up … an intern!?
Top Secret Interning Tips
AKA. How to turn your Internship into the super precious, Full-Time J.O.B.
Make the Tea
‘Do you want a cup of tea?’ – The question that every intern fears asking (especially if working with a big team, one pair of hands and ten cups of tea to carry is not fun).
Who hasn’t heard the horror stories about sad exploited interns being bullied into making tea and folding letters and all the rest? But tea is a team thing. It tells you a lot about the person you’re working with and is the perfect conversation starter for breaking the ice. On my team, we constantly laugh at our tea addiction and tease the people who make less cups of tea than the others. So don’t be scared, it’s really a friendly thing.
Internships Aren’t About You
As an intern you’re there, primarily, to get experience… because if you had experience, you wouldn’t need the internship, right? So you need to build your CV. Or perhaps you want to test out whether or not this job is The Job you want in the future. However, when you’re trying to convert Internship to Job, you need to take you out of it. Throw away your ego and think about the people you’re working with, the company you’re working for. Interns who are more concerned about their learning or in showing off their work are tedious. Of course, push your agenda, don’t scupper your education. But be willing to do what’s needed instead of what you want. And seriously, try not to make more work for everyone.
You Only Need Two
Not long ago, we had a second-year student join the team for work experience. He was always late into work, once he shambled in over two hours late with a weak smile and bloodshot eyes and an apology because he’d gone out the night before with his brother and got absolutely trollied. The next day he didn’t turn up at all. His honesty was appreciated and because he was a lovely guy we wanted to forgive him. Moreover, when he did turn up he was fantastic. He roared through tasks – took stuff home to make up for the time he missed and worked later if he’d screwed up his morning. In other words, he didn’t need to be timely because we liked him and he was good. This isn’t to say that as interns you shouldn’t try your best to be on time. You should. We were not impressed by his tardiness. But I subscribe to the belief that you only need two of three characteristics to ‘make by’.
Timeliness, Likability, Brilliance. If you’re likeable and timely, you don’t need to be brilliant. If you’re brilliant but an asshole, you really need to be on time. Neil Gaiman says it much better, so if you don’t believe me, your effable narrator, you should probably believe one of the most successful writers in the world.
To really stand out, however, you should probably try to be all of the above.
Be an Intrapreneurial Intern
If you’re genuinely hoping to turn your internship into a permanent position, your time as an intern is an extended interview. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, least of all the people you’re working with. However, to stand out and be the intern no one forgets (without photocopying your bum or over-drinking at a work party), be an intrapeneur – an entrepreneur within an organisation. These highly valuable executives and team members may never become a company founder, but they’re super capable, entrepreneurial personalities who apply their ingenuity and awesomeness to their roles within a company.
Persevere! Pursue! Press on!
Yup, you read that correctly. You’ve finished the verses, crossed the bridge and now it’s time to rally your graduate ethos into a grand reprise. Not only will these qualities help your feet onto the ladder (woo hoo you’re an intern baby!), but they’ll put you in pretty good stead as you start climbing it too. It’s about having the right attitude, being a keen bean intern machine (preferably with a personality but as we’ve noted, assholes can be brilliant, timely gods of internships too).
So how is that a top secret tip, I hear you cry, surely it’s common knowledge?! Well, my lovely readers, here is the thing: internships can suck. In fact, sometimes they’re positively vampiric. You will slog through the days, be given odious task after odious task, be told to do things that seem simplistic to the point of laughable. The days will wear on and on. You will pray for the day you’re called into a room by HR and given a title worthy of your own business cards. But it won’t happen immediately. It might take weeks, months, half a year, longer.
So you have to persevere – no one else can do that for you. You have to pursue every opportunity. Press on so that you’re indispensable by the time you’re meant to leave. Don’t give up. You’re only at the beginning.
And that’s all the Weekend Wisdom I have for you. A scribblicioius STEP TWO for the work-almost-ready Graduand.
Until next time!
Je serai poète et toi poésie,