Tip of the Week – Creating Meaning and Purpose During Your Internship

Millennials are much more prone to job-hopping compared to other generations currently populating the workforce, according to this Gallup article – not because they’re indecisive, but because they want a job that’s worthwhile and are willing to keep searching until they find it. For some, the hunt for a role that fulfils their personal ideals and objectives begins with an internship. Internships are a great opportunity to explore your chosen enterprise with lower stakes than a full-time position – a chance to assess your suitability for a specific career path while learning new skills directly applicable to that industry.

You’ve landed your dream internship after acing your interview. You’re looking at a good 3 months to half a year of exposure in the industry you’ve entered. Now comes the actual work – and we don’t just mean the tasks you’re assigned to do daily from 9 to 6. Here are some ways to keep your internships meaningful and purposeful:

Build Yourself Up from Basic Building Blocks

Be punctual for the work day, meetings and deadlines. Maintain your focus on your assignments no matter how exciting or mundane, and execute them with a drive and determination to excel. Be proactive – take on new tasks without sitting around idly waiting for them to be assigned. Ask your colleagues if there’s anything you can help out with. Exercise your resourcefulness and carry out research to figure out how to do things that you’re unfamiliar with, before turning to your colleagues for help. Through these steps, you’re presenting yourself as a reliable and diligent operator with a desire to learn. Your full-time colleagues will be a lot more open to providing guidance when they observe your willingness to work and be taught.

Informational Interviews Are Everywhere You Look

We get it – hanging out with other interns your age at the workplace is a great way to keep you sane and help you power through some of the more daunting periods at work. Having said that, don’t forget to dedicate some time to getting to know your colleagues in the company who’re more seasoned. These are the people who’ll be able to provide you with a deeper understanding of the nature of their jobs and the industry. Schedule an informational interview with them – a casual 15- to 20-minute conversation during which you ask them about the day-to-day features of their jobs, and what their advice to you would be if you plan on going down this route. These people aren’t hard to find – you’ll spot them the moment you step out of the intern bubble and take a quick glance around the office.

Keep Parsing Through Your Experience for Personal Insights

Your internship might be smooth-sailing, or it might not be going as well as you like. Either way, take the time to sit down weekly and reflect on your time there. There is gold to prospect for even on the beds of the roughest rivers. Ask yourself what you do like about your internship experience. This might not necessarily be things that take place in the office. Perhaps the internship is taking up much more time than you’d like, but spending time with your friends and family away from it has made you realize that you deeply treasure the moments you have with them. You might want to explore jobs and industries that allow you to have that. Or you might realize that you simply enjoy observing your colleagues’ behaviours and personality traits, and listening in on their conversational threads. Maybe you’re meant to work in spheres that allow you to explore the nuances of humanity – anthropology, psychology or sociology could be viable options.

It’s Your Time – Utilize It!

While they might not be as intense as full-time jobs, internships do take up a significant amount of time. Don’t let that time go to waste. Regardless of the hurdles that you must surmount at work, focus on what you can learn and how you can develop as a person. After all –

It’s really clear that the most precious resource we have is time.

– Steve Jobs

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