Picture this: It’s the year 2020. The government just announced a nationwide lockdown and I’m stuck at home doing activities we’re supposed to do outside. With nothing much going on — aside from starting my first year in college online — I thought to myself: what if I apply for an internship?
It was a great time to boost my experience in my desired field while getting an extra allowance for doing work from home! However, it wasn’t as easy as just applying in one click. Little did I know, there’s still so much more to learn before starting an internship — and I wish I knew it back then.
In this article, I’ll be going over important tips on what to know before starting an internship, how to prepare for an internship, especially during an interview, and more!
10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Internship
Here I’ll tell you everything to know before starting an internship based on my experiences as a marketing intern in a Singapore-based tech startup. I hope you’re ready!
1. Networking is a must
Back then, I didn’t realize how important it is to widen your network. I mainly relied on friends to find available jobs on the market which made it challenging for me to explore options that might be more suitable to my skills. Remember that it’s okay to branch out from the people you know and discover things yourself!
2. Organization is key
Balancing school and work can be overwhelming especially when you’ve got numerous tasks on your plate. With this, it’s essential to know how to keep track of what you need to do every day and provide time for your personal endeavors, too! You can use productivity apps such as Notion and Evernote for easier planning. Practicing it beforehand will make a great difference once you start!
3. Take that first step
I know the hardest part in preparing for an internship is that first step. The nervousness kicks in, and you suddenly feel like backing out. It happened to me many times before and I missed out on opportunities to grow. But once I finally did it, it felt amazing. So, don’t be too hard on yourself, this is just the beginning of your awesome journey.
4. Set your career goals
Having a clear path of your aspirations gives you more control over your actions. It’ll encourage you to develop the skills that you’ll bring throughout your career. As for me, journaling really helped so you can go back to them later on and sort out which ones are the most important at the moment. (TBH, writing rather than typing works better!)
5. Don’t lose hope
Getting rejected a few times without knowing why is the worst feeling ever. You have no idea where you went wrong and one thing that pops up into your mind is giving up. But hang on tight! You know what they say, there’s no perfect job, but only a perfect job for you. There are numerous internships out there waiting for someone like you!
6. Know work-life balance
In this day and age, people highly prioritize balance between work and leisure. This also comes in handy when you are about to look for an internship. Knowing what kind of work environment works best for you in order to let yourself enjoy what you do.
7. Update your resume
Back when I was preparing for an internship, I regretted that I always forget to update my resume. It was such a painful experience because I would then forget the things I’ve done that I can put in if I plan on looking for a new one. So, if you feel like a task assigned to you by your boss is something new, jot it down right away! And if you’re preparing for a marketing internship interview, a work portfolio is a plus.
8. Be in it for the experience, pay comes in second
Internships are like the baby steps of your career. I learned this the hard way since I was accustomed to having to earn money without asking my parents. In this stage, experience definitely counts more than your pay. This is the chance to explore and flourish your skills which will make a difference in the long run! Quick tip: startup internships can build a wide variety of skills and you’ll most likely be working independently. If this is the kind of internship you’d like, go for it!
9. Asking questions is essential
As an introvert, I was scared of asking for help from my colleagues and would rather search on the internet if there’s anything I’m not sure about. I could have just asked and the answer would have been right in front of me! While it’s okay to figure things out on your own, getting help from others can help you finish the job faster. Nonetheless, doing this will help you strengthen your foundation and build rapport among your fellow workers!
10. Know what you want
Being indecisive makes it hard to decide where to go, what kind of internship I want, and so on. However, you don’t need to know everything once you land the internship. It’s okay to make mistakes along the way as long as you learn from them! Patience is key. Marketing internships have a wide variety of choices you can do. Look them up to see which one’s for you!
How to prepare for your internship
With all the experiences I’ve had that I shared with you, I’m guessing a few questions still pop up in your mind. So, here’s some advice on how to prepare for an internship and insider information on what you should expect if you’re planning to apply for a marketing internship or a startup internship!
Firstly, get that internship. This is where thorough research comes in (and probably the hardest part). Be sure to check the company you’re applying to, know who they are, and see what they do. I promise you, they will appreciate that you’ve done a background check!
Secondly, be mentally and physically prepared. You’re going to have to juggle between academics and work which can be nerve-wracking. But don’t worry, this will all be worth it in the end. This is just the start of something new.
Last but not least, make it the best time alongside your fellow colleagues! This is a whole new world for you to explore and get to know people from different places, so don’t forget to have fun. A positive workplace is what we all yearn for, after all.
- On marketing internships: Preparing for a marketing internship interview can be tricky. As you may know, marketing internships are mainly responsible for promotions and advertising in all social media applications such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. The interviewee may ask you about a marketing strategy you have under your sleeve, so be sure you’ve got one ready! Another is your portfolio especially if you are applying for a graphic design role. This is completely optional but it’s a great bonus if you have one.
- On startup internships: Startup internships can be a bit different than what large enterprises have to offer. You get to have more independence when handling tasks and you can gain more experience in different areas of your expertise. It can help you decide further which aspects of your dream career you would like to focus on.
Having an internship is a step closer to your dream job. You can gain exposure to what it’s like to be in the corporate world, and prepares you on what you should look out for! You might experience some mistakes along the way, but as long as you look back and learn from them, then you’re more than ready to take on another challenge. This is your sign to go get that internship! Don’t miss out on many opportunities.
Want to take the leap and take on a new internship? Go visit joblu.io to see global opportunities that can help you land your dream internship!
Frequently Asked Questions About Starting Internships
Q: What does an internship get you?
A: An internship gives you that firsthand experience of what it’s like in the corporate world. You get the chance to grow professionally and personally which you can showcase once you get your first job.
Q: Do interns get paid?
A: Some companies offer paid internships and some do not. Most unpaid internships are counted as academic credit (like on the job training).
Q: What skills do I need to be an intern?
A: It entirely depends on what kind of internship you’re looking for. Some companies require the necessary hard skills specific to their field of expertise. As for the soft skills, here are a few that you need to learn: communication, interpersonal, time management, adaptability, and so on.
Written by Camry Camihat