Sunday, December 13, 2009

Internships - Best way to get your ideal job

For the past couple of years I had the opportunity to work with many interns. For common understanding, an intern is essentially a person who is just out of college, university or who formally wants to spend sometime in between academic years in an commercial environment to acclimatise themselves with the corporate world. I've worked with 16 year olds who come for a week to 24 year olds who come for several months.

There are multiple ways of landing with a good internship job. Some companies advertise for certain limited positions, but more often than not it is your personal contact which gets you the job. All those who have come to work with me belongs to the latter. So make sure your have your contacts worked out!

While I never had the good fortune, I firmly believe this is the best way for someone to find their first job in the corporate world. Let me explain how.

As an apprentice if you are very clear and specific about the type of job you want to take up as a career then you would request for an internship in that particular department(Finance, Marketing, Sales, Procurement, HR, IT, Operations etc). If not you would try your hand at couple of departments before deciding on the ideal. Just a word of caution, to make the internship more meaningful, make it at least 4 weeks and if not a lot more.

Here's what you get a during an internship. Be ready to go through the worse the job can offer. Pretty much like the hospitality industry where a hotelier starts his career from the kitchen, peeling bags full of vegetables. Request you to be given the lowest level of work. If it is a sales job, make sure you get on the field!

Remember during internship you will understand and begin to appreciate a lot about the industry itself. Make sure your internship goes beyond the usual work hours. Spend extra time understanding the business further. Request extra work within the department. Whereever you have the opportunity, engage in inquisitive discussions about the business with the respective department head. Apart from learning a lot, with your 'non brainwashed mind' you might be able to add real value to the organization in the form of useful observations. As much as possible ask for specific projects with surefire deliverable.

While at work try to identify and study successful people in that company. Watch them carefully and try to model their successful traits. It's not about changing who you are, but rather it is about identifying and applying those traits.

Remember as an apprentice you might "not find the most accommodating boss all the time. But be sure to learn whatever possible under various circumstances. Checkout my July 09th blog posting on

As much as possible try to receive feedback from your superiors (the person who is assigned as your mentor or even the department head himself). Ask them to be blunt with their feedback. Tell them you prefer the truth about how you are fairing and make sure that they treat you like an equal and not as a 'kid'.

Pay special attention to the soft skill gaps of yours. You are bound to come across those whom you would rate as excellent be it in dress sense, public speaking, mingling with people, negotiations, leading etc. Identify their levels and more importantly identify your gaps. You will not be successful in bridging the gap, but it is worth a million to know the gap so that slowly but surely you could work towards bridging that. Ask your colleagues to give candid feedback in this regard.

Most young adults tend to look for the best paying internship or the comfortable internship when considering one. This is dead wrong. Money should not be a consideration point ever.Greediness for couple of thousand bucks could make you miss out on an opportunity which is priceless. Ideally you should do it FOC!

I always make it point to stretch interns to their maximum limits. I've given them projects with total financial responsibilities and to date none of them have failed me. In fact their projects have been up to the mark, novel and more importantly successful. I've also come across people who are excellent in their technical skills but lacks very important traits such as credibility. For example the playful types sometime bring on board with them their bad school habits! Staying back home without informing for several days and not keeping up to their words etc.I'm glad they are on internships and not on a paid job because if they had been in a proper job, they are destined loose big time.

Now why should someone go through all this trouble?

Well to start off with having couple of projects under your belt will give you an edge over other competitors in your ideal job interview. Your limited grooming would project you as a 'mature' person compared to the others. Once landed with the job it will make your acclimatisation much faster which enables you to perform quickly. And, may be, just may be, that your internship organization would be happy with your work that they may just decide to hire you immediately or subsequent to your studies!


Anonymous said...

I am curious what Kathrine will say with that...


Anonymous said...

Great read! I want you to follow up on this topic!!