Everything You Need To Know Before Starting Your First Internship

An internship often occurs during uni, or in that awkward phase between being a student and entering the real world of full-time employment. And while a good internship can equip you with super-valuable skills and springboard you into an incredible career, a bad one can leave you feeling lost and taken advantage of.

Are internships even worth it? What should I expect? Am I guaranteed a job out of it? Should I be getting paid? These are all of the questions it pays to have answered before walking in the doors the first day, so here us out: we’re going to do our best to answer them.

What should I expect?

In short, expect the unexpected.

Look. Unless you’ve been given a full job description detailing what you’re going to be doing on the daily (un-bloody-likely), it’s best not to go in with a bunch of preconceptions or expectations. It’s best to just go with the flow.

Yeah, some of your tasks may seem meaningless or pointless and that could be because they are. But the best kind of intern will make the best out of a mediocre situation. Yeah you mightn’t be doing exactly what you’d like to be, but try to find the meaning or purpose in every task you perform, even if it’s tedious.

If all else fails, know that person you’re reporting to no doubt has extensive and priceless industry experience, so grill them whenever you can.

You can expect that you won’t be taken advantage of, that you’ll learn new stuff and gain industry experience. The payoff when interning is that you’re filling your brain with a bunch of important skills that will serve you in your chosen career path. If you’re not learning anything, what’s the point?

Should I be getting paid?

Some internships are paid. They don’t pay a whole lot but hey, money is money, right? And some internships are part of university courses, requirements that have to be met before graduating.

So should interns be paid, always? It’s is a dicey question which the answer to is totally subjective and very debatable. But we reckon the best way to make sense of it is to decide based on your own circumstances.

Is the industry experience worth it? Do you have other streams of income to support you while you intern? Do you reckon it’ll help you in the long run? If you’ve answered yes to enough of these questions, it’s absolutely worth it.

But it’s important to note that though interning is great and looks awesome on a resume, not completing an internship doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get a killer job. It’s a leg up, but not the determining factor.

How should I dress?

Rocking up in a suit when everyone else is wearing tees and sneakers? Worst. Nightmare.

It’s worth flicking an email to whoever you’ll be working with or giving them a call to get a heads up on the dress code. It’s important to feel comfortable and not show up looking like a dag.

Am I guaranteed a job out of it?

No, you’re not guaranteed one. But you’re likely to be seriously considered if a role comes up you’re fit for.

If you’ve proved your worth within the business and your hiring managers already know that you’re reliable, trustworthy and good at your job, they’d be mad not to hire you.

Even if you don’t score a job out of it, you’ll score the two next best things: a killer reference and a network of people who may be able to assist you in scoring a job down the track.

So is an internship even worth it?

We think so.

Internships can lead to incredible opportunities that you otherwise may not have been considered for.

So long as you’re enjoying it, learning new skills and gaining valuable industry experience you’re on to a winner.

(Lead Image: The Hills) 

Bradley is a writer from regional NSW and he didn’t come here to make friends, he came to win. He tweets infrequently to his 43 followers @bradjohnston_.