Common Mistakes Interns Make (and how to avoid them)

Common Mistakes Interns Make (and how to avoid them)

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We all make mistakes- the crucial thing is that you learn from them. As an internship is likely to be your first exposure to the world of work, or your first time in a professional environment, it's easy to slip up. Here at Intern Asia we've put together a list of common mistakes interns make, and how you can avoid them! 


Bad first impressions

At an internship, as in business in general, first impressions are crucial. Leaving a bad first impression is likely to impact your reputation for the rest of your internship, no matter what you try to do to change it.


Being unprofessional

In turn, always ensure you turn up on time, are suitably dressed, remember people’s names and keep your phone in your bag!


Being careless

As an intern, the tasks you’re given may be boring, repetitive and simple, and it’s easy to switch off. However, they are often designed to test your ability and to what extent you suit the role. Make sure you double check and proof read everything before you send it to your supervisor. Even small mistakes reflect badly on you and give the impression that you do not care about the job nor the company’s carefully crafted reputation, and are a signal that you aren’t good enough for the role. Always pay attention to detail.


Being disrespectful

Remember, those working around you don’t have an end date at the end of their summer, and this is their full time job. So even if you dislike the job and the people, treat both with respect. They’re relying on you, as an intern, to help them with their jobs and workload. Interns often treat those who are not their superiors, such as company secretaries, as beneath them- they too are crucial to the organisation. Show that you can work well in a team.


Being unprepared

It’s important that you research what the company does and what your role will be before you get there. If there is prior knowledge you need to have, learn and remember it. If your job requires up-to-date knowledge of current events in the markets, have that information to hand. You should also make an effort to learn about the office culture and follow your colleagues’ examples so that you can fit in, which is particularly important if you intern abroad where professional culture may be different to what you are used to at home.


Not being proactive

Don’t just sit there and expect work to magically land on your desk. Your supervisor is unlikely to always have things for you to do, so take the initiative to ask people for work and to go above and beyond what is expected of you. This will greatly benefit you- you can learn new skills, meet new people, and gain a broader understanding of the work. Furthermore, your helpfulness will reflect positively on you.


Forgetting boundaries

This goes without saying- they’re your superiors and colleagues. A little respect will always be positively noted. Being too casual may give the impression that you don’t care or aren’t yet ready for a full time job. At the same time, always be friendly (and positive).


Not listening

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but listen to the answer and don’t ask the same question twice. Failure to listen will anger people and give the impression that you neither care about the job nor appreciate their help. It will also give the impression that you do not work well in a team.


Focussing exclusively on a potential job rather than an internship

By doing this, you’re missing out on a valuable internship experience. If you remain exclusively focussed on the end of the internship, you’ll learn less, won’t get to know your colleagues as well, and may ultimately fail to fulfil your role as an intern, making a job offer less likely. Remember to enjoy your time there! Keeping a record of what you do each day will help with future interviews and applications as you will have a detailed record of what experience you’ve gained and the skills you’ve learnt.


Poor time management

This goes without saying, but complete work on time. Others are relying on you to do so, and failure to complete work shows that you can’t work with others, have poor organisational skills, and all around aren’t a person that can add to the company.


Not establishing relationships

Regardless of whether you want the job or not, establishing good relationships with your supervisor and your colleagues will serve you well for future networking, support during your internship and career advice. It’s important to keep those links after the internship too- you never know when they may come in handy.


Not taking feedback on-board

Your supervisor will have taken time out of their schedule to arrange feedback sessions. Show that you’re grateful by listening and building on their advice. You could use it to develop some goals you want to achieve. Remember it’s not personal- they want you to improve too; and feedback helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses which will help you succeed. Failing to improve once given feedback is a sure-fire sign to employers that you aren’t the candidate that they’re looking for and do not want to improve.

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