Denna S
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
5 min read

Work experience takeaways from your first graduate internship 

The graduate job search can be tough, especially if there isn’t much work experience under your belt. A great way to deal with this is for graduates to get work experience through paid internships. A graduate internship can work wonders for your CV, it helps in filling out the gaps you might be missing in skills and making you more of an ideal candidate for future jobs. In an internship, you will meet numerous people, and if you play your cards right it might even lead to full-time graduate job. Usually, internships are short-term placements ranging from 3 to 6 months, so it is vital during this time to boost your work experience so you maximize what you can get out of it. 


Most graduates new to the working world often go into an internship blindly, happy to have got something under their belt. Here are the key takeaways and graduate internship tips that ensure career success in the future. 


New and improved skills 

Learning skills and enhancing your innate skills is valuable for your experience. Internships have an steep learning curve. To make the most out of the work experience gained, make the skills you gained to your career by considering how the skills learned can be transferrable in any role that you will be looking to fill in the future. Absorb and learn as much as you can on the job, so that you can use it to get to the next stage of your career. We live in a very skills-based world, having technical or other experience can put you ahead of other candidates and these skills will help you considerably fill out your CV. 



Knowledge of the field & understanding the industry 

Internships give graduates a taste of working within the industry. It gives a general idea of the structure of how the company works, what the culture will be like in similarly related companies and general knowledge of the field. Prior to working within the industry, you might have a skewed view of how the business works, gaining deeper insights with internship work experience. Having an understanding of the market and industry can advance your career significantly. 


Recommendations & references

A strong recommendation or reference is an excellent addition to any application and rave reviews from previous employers can help you secure a fulltime graduate job. To ensure a positive and professional reference, maintain friendly relationships with your employer and coworkers. Make sure to ask for the letter a few weeks in advance to the internship ending. 

In most cases, employers of interns are more than happy to act as a reference or write a recommendation letter. 



New network 

Graduate internships open the door to an entirely new network. You will be introduced to a multitude of people in your chosen field. The people you meet at your internship can be the people that will help you get your next job. Relationship building is crucial especially if this will 

be your primary work experience. Add your coworkers on LinkedIn and meet as many people as you possibly can during your tenure at your internship. Say hello to people and introduce yourself instead of standing awkwardly by the kettle in the kitchen politely avoid eye contact with unfamiliar coworkers. Everyone you build a positive relationship in your graduate internship with has the potential to assist you with your future job search, so be friendly and reach out! 


Sense of professionalism 

An internship can teach a new graduate how to work in a professional setting, get things done on time, meet deadlines, attend meetings and develop the ability to take feedback. The following skills are crucial in your professional growth. 



Career direction, clarity & career planning 

Interning at a company essentially allows you to test a career trajectory before the long-term commitment to the industry. Graduate internships can help you determine whether plans for your career that were made prior to the internship are still desirable and will give you clarity and direction in your next steps. It can help you determine the aspects of the job you do or don’t like and can help shape your future career track. 


A job in or out of the company 

Playing your cards right could lead to a full-time graduate job within the company you intern at. To make this happen, be clear, enthusiastic and express that you would like to see your career path continue at the company. Make a good impression and develop strong relationships with your coworkers and employers, and apply for fulltime roles while interning. This will keep you at the forefront for future job openings. Your work ethic and experience with the company will serve as a stellar reason to hire you over externally. 


If a job within the company is not in the books, use all the takeaways from the internship such as skills, industry knowledge, references and networks to leverage yourself at other companies within the industry. Prospective employers will find your work experience at your graduate internship key to being a good fit within their organization. 


Completed projects and presentations 

Working as a graduate intern, you will be involved in many projects or presentations that you can include within your portfolio. Internships in realms such as design or copywriting, the pieces you write within the company can serve as documents that can get you your next job. Make sure to keep your best pieces at hand to advance your future career prospects.

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