As competition for graduate jobs increases, students need to think of new ways to set themselves apart from all of the other equally qualified and skilled candidates.
Graduates who have relevant work experience tend to be more valued by employers, and this makes internships an attractive prospect.
An internship is an opportunity offered by an employer to potential employees, called interns, to work at a firm for a fixed period of time.
Interns are usually undergraduates or students, and most internships last between a month and three months.
An internship should give you practical skills, workplace experience and greater knowledge of that industry, in exchange for the employer benefiting from your labor.
I was honored to take an internship at Radio Univers, the campus radio station of the Premier University, University of Ghana, this vacation.
As a novice in the media environment, I found it a little challenging getting along with work. Nevertheless, the three months stay at Radio Univers couldn’t be anything short of excitement, exposure, life-transforming experience.
The tasks I engaged in ranged from scripting reports, writing online articles and newsfeeds, interviewing various resource persons and writing news stories for the radio bulletin and producing radio shows.
One cardinal skill I developed there, as an intern, was the ability to work in a team and get along with colleagues at work.
I worked with different groups of colleagues for various tasks and built strong relationships with almost all my teammates.
The work environment, though demanding and challenging at times, allowed for healthy interactions among colleagues and supervisors.
I always felt valued and appreciated, and that pushed me to give off my best and as well as unearth my potential.
Though only interning for a short period, I felt like part of the work-family.
Another value I developed as an intern was hard work and diligence.
Being hardworking and diligent with my tasks, helped build trust between me and my supervisors and editors.
This allowed them to grant me more opportunities for learning.
Covering of shows, seminars and conferences are enviable opportunities to have when working with Radio Univers, and I was privileged to have been given such privileges as an intern.
I have also improved tremendously in my research, analytical and timekeeping skills.
The reports I worked on involved analyzing situations and compiling facts. Again, much of the tasks I was assigned to were time-bound so I had to get acclimatized to working under pressure and meeting deadlines.
In addition to all these, I got an in-depth experience on how to use professional software such as Adobe Audition audio editor and Microsoft word.
Also my few times on-air experience, phone interviews and reports have helped hone my communication and public speaking skills.
Although internships are great opportunities to gain some on-the-job expertise, in our setting, there is a popular notion that interns are almost never taught anything pertaining to the work environment and are only assigned to donkey chores such as going on errands and performing janitorial duties.
On the contrary, you could get the most out of your internship with these few tips;
- Set clear goals for the internship
Set personal goals that you want to achieve during your internship and ask your supervisor for things to do. If you find that your work is done, ask for new projects or look to read company literature and/or professional journals. Goal setting is especially important for interns – to ensure that you gain the relevant skills employers are seeking when hiring future full-time employees.
- Make new connections:
Your internship is a valuable opportunity to start networking. After all, the people you meet in this setting could become friends, professional contacts and possible mentors for years to come.
- Identify a mentor
Learn from those you admire and develop mentoring relationships you can continue long after your internship has ended. Professionals enjoy sharing their expertise and want to assist new professionals entering the field. A good mentor is someone who is willing to share their knowledge and expertise and wants to see their mentee succeed in the field.
- Seek out growth opportunities:
Your first couple of days and weeks may include onboarding sessions and training. Take advantage of any training time offered to ask questions and learn new skills. If there isn’t any formal training, find new sources of information on your own. This is a rare opportunity to understand how an organization works inside and out. To get the most from your internship, approach each hour of the working day with energy and curiosity.
- Build a positive outlook throughout
During your internship, you will be learning many new skills, navigating a new hierarchy and stretching in all the ways that foster personal and professional growth. Each of these is likely to result in stress and self-doubt at one point or another.
To counteract that uncertainty, identify ways to build positive thinking. If you are journaling, document the highs as well as the lows. Practice gratitude by singling out the reasons behind the good outcomes. Be gentle with yourself when things don’t go as planned, and find meaningful ways to reward yourself for hard work done well.
Besides these few tips on how to get the most out of your internship, identifying an institution such as Radio Univers, that values employees, creates a conducive environment for employee development and growth, and offers many opportunities for career skills development is key for a transformational internship experience like mine.