Calling all interns! Are you optimizing your internship experience? Or are you failing to take advantage of some awesome opportunities?
Based on the global skills shortage, it may be the latter. According to a ManpowerGroup survey, employers are having difficulty filling open positions because candidates lack expertise in areas like technical competencies (hard skills) and workplace competencies (soft skills). So, if you aren’t honing your skills, learning all you can from your internship, and using your knowledge to prove why you’re awesome, you could swiftly be placed in the “no” pile for future opportunities.
Internships are meant to be a learning experience, and while experiences and skills may vary by industry, let’s take a look at a few universal skills that can boost your career.
If you don’t know how to manage your work in the early stages of your career, when will you? Your internship is a great place to learn how to organize your priorities and take charge of your career goals.
For example, if you aren’t great at managing projects now, your internship manager will likely talk to you about it to resolve any problems. They may tell you to get a planner, check in with them daily, or talk out your goals so other people are aware of them. In a full-time, non-internship position, your manager may not have the time to do so. So it’s important to learn how to manage your projects when you’re still new to the game.
At one point or another, you’re going to have to get up in front of a group of people and state your case. No matter what industry you’re in, from leading presentations to heading client pitches, ample public speaking training can bring you from a good intern to a great employee.
A great way to do this in your internship is to ask your manager if you can lead a few team meetings. This is a simple way to ease into public speaking since you’re talking to people you’re familiar with, while practicing the skill in a less threatening situation.
The world is becoming more and more reliant on technology and, because of that, your internship is a great opportunity to improve your software skills. Not only will it beef up your resume, it will make you look more credible to future employers since you have more to give.
For example, let’s say you’re in an advertising internship. By learning programs like Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, or Acrobat, you make yourself more valuable to your future employer. Plus, since many of these skills are transferable to different industries, you’ll stay relevant, even if you decide to switch to another profession.
You’re going to face a whole array of characters in your career, from loud speakers to Type-A personalities. Learning how to work with different kinds of people will help you to adjust your workstyle when necessary.
How can you “learn” teamwork in your internship, though? Try to interact with different employees, both inside and outside of your department. This will help you to understand how people work, what makes them tick, and how their knowledge can aid you to be more well-rounded.
One of the most important skills you can learn is how to network properly. While you may be working with a set group or department, going outside of the box and learning how to communicate effectively with others is going to create a great experience. Here are a few suggestions:
- Talk to everyone. If everyone knows your story and why you’re great, you’ll be the first one they think of referring if the perfect opportunity pops up.
- Hand out your business cards. Business cards are still relevant! Hand these out during and after your internship program in order to stay in touch with industry leaders and influencers.
- Connect on social networking platforms. While business cards are great, connecting on social media channels are also a good way to stay in touch. Just be sure to use them professionally (and appropriately).
- Keep the conversation going. The beauty of networking is that even after your internship, you can still keep the conversation going. Do so by checking in with your internship manager and colleagues once in a while, such as communicating industry news or offering your services, should they need it.
While you may not have thought about it, learning the right skills in your internship can take your career to the next level. Whether you’re already in an internship or about to embark in a new one, make sure you learn the above skills in order to optimize your experience and better prepare yourself for the future!
What you think? What are some other skills you need to learn in your internship to advance your career?
Ashley Mosley is the Community Engagement Manager of InternMatch, an online platform connecting the best intern candidates and employers. Connect with Ashley and InternMatch on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.