Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
As an intern, trainee or apprentice, you are there to learn. Your colleagues will be aware that you don’t necessarily have as much experience as them, and you won’t be expected to do everything perfectly first time. Don’t be afraid to take on tasks outside of your comfort zone – taking initiative, getting stuck in and learning from your mistakes will reflect on you a lot better than reluctance to get involved for fear of getting things wrong.
Adapt to the company’s working culture
Watch how colleagues behave and adjust your own behaviour accordingly. What do they wear? How do they interact with one another? What kind of topics do they talk about in the office, and what do they avoid? Be careful not to forget, however, that many colleagues will have been working there considerably longer than you, or may be working under contracts different to yours, so while your boss might leave the office early each day, it may not be acceptable for you to do the same!
Take advantage of training and qualification opportunities
If you’re offered training and qualification opportunities, take them! Many companies cover training costs for their staff to allow them to improve their skills and knowledge in areas relevant to their respective roles. Not only could this help you do your current job better, but it will also boost your CV and help you build your skillset for future career progression.
Offer to take on more tasks
If you’ve got some spare capacity, ask your colleagues if there’s anything you can help them with. Interns who are willing to do the small, mundane tasks as well as the bigger, more interesting ones are those that are the most valued, and the most likely to be offered a permanent position. If you’re told there’s nothing for you to work on, don’t use it as an excuse to be lazy – try to think of ways in which you could be helpful more generally. Do you have any ideas which you think could help the company improve? Perhaps you could write a template to help streamline a specific process, or create a booklet of helpful information for new employees? Demonstrating that you are motivated and creative, as well as genuinely invested in the company’s success, will enhance your colleagues’ trust in you and your abilities.
It’s not personal
If you’re new to the world of work, it can be easy to let yourself get carried away with questions like ‘What do my new colleagues think of me?’, ‘Did I do ____ right?’, or ‘What did ____ mean by that email?’. Remember that everyone is there to perform a specific job, and just because there might be conflict regarding deadlines, priorities and decisions, they are not (for the most part) personal and do not reflect what someone thinks of you as a person.
It doesn’t have to be forever
Over the course of your internship, traineeship or apprenticeship, you may find that the area or company you’re working in isn’t for you. This doesn’t mean that you have wasted your time, as figuring out what doesn’t suit you is just as important as figuring out what does. You will still have gained a number of transferable skills and experience which will most likely help you land jobs better suited to you further down the line.
We hope these tips will help you to reach your full professional potential!
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- Publication date
- 1 November 2019
- European Labour Authority | Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
- Business / EntrepreneurshipHints and tipsYouth
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