Internships: Calm (?) before the storm | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 18, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:01 PM, August 23, 2017

Internships: Calm (?) before the storm

Internships are meant to give us a firsthand taste of the famous 'corporate culture' that everyone speaks of. They give us a platform to apply our theoretical knowledge in practical business scenarios and figure out our strengths and weaknesses. Yet, most of us take internships for granted and often end up loitering around the workplace, doing nothing (eating subsidised food does not count).

Most organisations in Bangladesh don't have a comprehensive plan for internship programmes either, making matters worse. More often than not, interns end up running errands for line managers who gladly pass on all the tedious work, terming them as 'part of the corporate experience'. However, there's still a lot to be learnt if you genuinely put in the time and effort. Here are seven things you should keep in mind in order to make your internship experience more than just filler material for your CV.

1. Don't join the rat race

Don't take up an internship just because everyone else is doing it. For entry positions, a lot of reputed companies don't care whether you have previous work experience or not. Peer pressure will only end up wasting your time in this case. Shreya Saha, who worked as an intern for Analyzen, says, “My advice is, never go with the flow. Find something you are genuinely interested in while pursuing your internship”.

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2. Make up your mind

The general perception in Bangladesh is the smaller the organisation, the more you get to learn from an internship stint. While a startup might help you more in developing your skill sets, a big brand does look good on your CV. It is very important to make up your mind as to what you want because an internship is an expensive time investment and if you are caught in the middle, you might lose motivation and regret your decision in the middle of the stint.

3. Set priorities

We start off with maxed-out motivation levels, but in just a couple of days, most of that drains away because let's face it, working after class is not fun. However, skipping work days or missing deadlines without any legitimate reason creates a negative impression about yourself and your university on the employer's mind. This might seem harmless, but word spreads fast and it can come back to haunt you during future recruitments.

4. Ask loads of questions

Even though interns are here to learn, most of us try to stay within our comfort zone and avoid tasks we know little about. However, asking relevant questions to understand the ins and outs of completing a particular task never hurts. “No matter how stupid the question is, ask and try to learn as much as possible. People will appreciate the hunger to learn”, says Syed Ibrahim Saajid, a pricing strategist at Grameenphone.

5. Create your network

This is something you will find in every article ever written about internships. Don't just stick to your 'intern group' or people within your department. Talk to as many individuals as possible without stepping on their toes because when you are looking for a full-time job, you never know where the opportunity might come from. Most people consider this to be the biggest perk of an internship and rightfully so.

6. Take risks

You will not be spoon-fed in a corporate setting. Mistakes will cross your path every now and then, but it's all part of the learning experience. Sabira Mehrin, who is a Management Associate at Telenor Health says, “Internships help you to step into the work culture. Embrace trial and error to sharpen your skills and identify your capabilities during this period. Make sure you understand your strengths and work on your weaknesses while being an intern”.

7. Be honest

If you have irregular class timings, be open about it even before you get hired. If your best friend is leaving for the States, be honest about it and tell your boss that you won't be able to make it. Don't pretend you know Photoshop or any other skill unless you actually do, because eventually you will get caught. Remember, these guys have heard it all and can see through your excuses. Being honest will never hurt you, unless of course, your reason is “I am lazy”.

Sameem is a junior at the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka.

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