If you’ve sharpened your elbows, called in favours from family and friends and managed to land yourself a juicy place, read our tips for how to get the best out of your internship.
Agree the terms
A well structured experience will be better for you and the employer, so make sure you agree all the details in advance of your start date. Will you get expenses and lunch, or be paid a small wage? If you are not being paid ask for some flexibility in your hours so you can fit in a part time job or studies. Find out who will be your mentor or work buddy, and the everyday stuff such as what the dress code is.
Plan what you want to get out of the internship. Roles in the creative industries tend to be broadly similar, whether you are working at an agency or an in-house creative department so if you want the chance to write press releases or help organise an event, say so at the interview. You’ll be getting some valuable experience so ask if you can build a portfolio to include in your CV – for more help read our CV writing tips here.
Yes you’ll almost certainly have to do some mundane jobs like filing, photocopying and the mid-afternoon cake run, so do try and look cheerful about it. Tell yourself it’s character-building.
When to keep quiet
Maintain absolute confidentiality, both in the office and when you leave. If colleagues are having a jolly chat about the shortcomings of senior management, don’t be tempted to join in. Do not check your emails and texts, or make personal calls while you are at work. Everyone else may well be doing it, but it doesn’t mean that you should. If management sees you skiving at the very time you are trying to impress them with your work ethic, what does that say about your chances of being offered a job or a good reference?
And when to speak up
Try and listen more than you talk, you’ll learn more that way. But don’t just show up and observe – speak up, without being a know-all. If you put yourself in the background, that’s where you’ll stay.
If you run out of work don’t be tempted to idle away some time on Facebook. Volunteer for extra tasks or ask around if anyone has anything you can help with. Ask if you can join in planning meetings and brainstorming sessions.
If you’re not sure about a task then ask someone, don’t just struggle on. No one expects you to know everything but they do expect you to be smart enough to ask questions if necessary.
It’s a chance to meet a lot of new people so make it work for you. If you know in advance that there will be no job at the end of the placement, tactfully ask colleagues or your boss if they can suggest anyone you might approach, or know of any opportunities. We often have vacancies for interns, check our list of current jobs here.
And not just to people higher up the food chain. Take the initiative and introduce yourself, you never know who you might meet and when you might bump into them again in the future.
Understand your employer’s viewpoint
They want you to have a good experience but at the same time remember that in their eyes you need a lot of time and support, and while you are keen to be let loose on exciting projects and given responsibility, your new boss is not sure where your strengths are until they have seen you in action.
End on a good note
Many internships leads to permanent jobs and hopefully yours will be one of them. But if not, it might just be that there are no vacancies for a role with your skills, and not a reflection on how you have performed. Leave on a good note by thanking the relevant people, and asking if you can keep in touch.
Internships are a great way to get work experience and show what you can do, follow these simple tips for making your placement a success. And we’d love to hear from you if you have any tips to add, or experiences you’d like to share.