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5 differences from being a student to becoming an intern

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On the one hand, as a student, your lifestyle habits can be very pleasant. For example, you can have much free time, you can just decide to spend an afternoon at the park with friends and you can defer the study until a few days before the exam. On the other hand, your life as a student can also be very stressful and full of anxiety when you face a test, or when you’re about to graduate and you don’t know yet what to do next in life. 

As an intern, your lifestyle habits will be very different. You’ll probably lose free time during weekdays, but you will therefore even enjoy your weekends a lot more! You’ll get so much valuable professional experience in return and start developing a good work ethic.

Your lifestyle will change from being a student to becoming an intern. Here we show you 5 main differences.


1. Be on time

student lifeThe first difference from being a student to becoming an intern is that you have to be punctual. We all know this might be hard. Your lifestyle habits in a new and exciting city (such as Shanghai or Beijing) will change very quickly as you will want to explore the city’s nightlife on weeknights as well as weekends!
When you used to arrive late for class, no one worried about that and the consequences fell only on yourself: you just had to retrieve notes and study a little harder. But, if you arrive late for work, or even worse, if you don’t show up at all, the consequences fall on the whole company as well. Arriving late because you didn’t hear your alarm go off is a definite no-go! Your boss, more than mad, will be disappointed and might stop trusting you. You are an important member of the company even as an intern; so don’t let your colleagues (and yourself) down! Don't forget that there are now other people relying on you to do the job.


2. Stop chatting

intern lifeLet’s face it: chatting is one of the activities that makes you lose the focus the most. During class time, it’s very easy to start chatting with classmates. It’s even easier to stop listening to the professor for a few minutes and get distracted by our smart-phones and the fast access to social media. This makes you lose the train of thought and makes your notes messy, full of white gaps and no order between one sentence and the other. During working hours, same rules apply. Don’t interrupt your co-workers every five minutes with your little “Hey, you know what happened there” or “Did you hear…” gossip talks. When you have questions about a task that has been assigned to you, ask at the appropriate time, but limit the small talk and your desire to be friendly to lunchtime or after-work!


3. Organize your tasks

good internship

If there’s one thing you’ll learn during your internship, it’s to be organized. When studying a particular academic discipline, you also need order, because you can’t just switch from topic to topic without understanding the principles behind the subject. While working however, the need to prioritize tasks is even stronger. Also, the respect of deadlines is very important. Setting your own deadlines, preferably one day before the actual date your boss has set them, might be a good way to stop appearing as a student and stay on top of your game! Remember to write lists in order to be able to prioritise effectively.


4. Ask, ask and ask


Usually, one of the most frightening things while attending classes at university is to ask a question to the professor in front of one hundred people… All eyes are on you! This is particularly true for shy people. Talking in front of an audience is very hard, and having your questions unanswered seems to be the better option then. An internship however, requires you to be curious and eager to learn every day. The people you're working with are likely to have done internships themselves too, and understand that you are there to learn and develop. This means you don’t have to be afraid of asking, because your supervisor will always be happy to help you or to listen to your questions. Ask questions if you’re hesitant about something and make sure you have all the information you require to complete a task in the best way! Just ensure that you listen to the answer and don't ask the same question twice- this will appear careless and unprofessional.


5. Learn the art of double-checking

double-checking work

From the very beginning of your internship you will learn the useful & time saving art of double-checking. If you think about how careful you have to be when filling in an exam (check if you have all the correct data, provide an accurate answer, double-check every response, …), you’ll realize that double-checking is something with which you are already familiar. It’s a very important activity, which should even become a habit, in every kind of job because you deal with a wide audience: they’re customers of the company, suppliers, co-workers, stakeholders, your own supervisor,… It’s not only a question of fulfilling a correct assignment, but also of presenting it in the most clear and clean way. In order to be sure you deliver excellent work, and avoid sending files to the wrong person, learn the art of double-checking! This is also really useful when writing a CV or cover letter, or just in your professional life in general.


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