After months of exciting, and often tedious, preparations of applying for your internship, getting your logistics sorted and landing in a new country, it is time to make the most of it. The two or three months that you intern at the office/university should be your gateway to a rewarding future. Remember, an internship is most often a tool by which companies/professors find full time employees/MS students. Hence, you should use your internship as an opportunity to showcase yourself to your employer.
Here are some do’s and don’ts while interning abroad:
- Be on time, always: Can’t reiterate this enough. Punctuality speaks volumes about how professional you are and how seriously you take your work. Moreover, reaching work before time will help you stay organised and allow you to plan your day.
- Network: Try to meet and talk to as many people as possible. Go on lunches with your coworkers/other interns, attend meetings and events, exchange business cards – the contacts that you make while you are interning will help you when you start your career. Learn more about their position in the company, and how they got it and spend time off the field with them. All conversations don’t have to be purely business – find out if you share a common passion with a coworker, and build on that. But, remember to draw limits and don’t pester people who may not be interested in socializing.
- Take initiative: Don’t think that you are just an intern and your job is to fetch coffee, file papers, and generally do what you are told. You did not come all the way just for that. Be a hustler, take initiative and find out what needs to be done. Be part of any training programmes that are on, if you are allowed to and ask if you can accompany your boss to any business lunch they may be going to. Remember, you have just a couple of months to make an impression – use it and let people remember you.
- Ask questions: There is no thing as too many questions. Don’t think that people will feel you are ignorant just because you are asking questions. On the contrary, it shows that you are interested in learning about your work. The more questions you ask, the better you will get at what you do.
- Take your work seriously: Remember, you are going for an internship and not to party or to have fun. I know friends who have got carried away with the lifestyle in a foreign country and didn’t deliver on the assigned work. The results were disastrous – they were given an ultimatum to work and deliver, or else their internship would be cut short and the funding revoked. The professor/company that accepted you has put their faith in you and your capabilities – do not let them down.
- Ask for feedback: Ask your manager/professor for an honest, detailed feedback on your work. This will help you find out where your strengths are, where you need to work more, and how suitable you are for the job. It also demonstrates to your manager that you are committed to your work.
- Avoid unnecessary topics: You will be meeting people from different backgrounds, who come with their own ideologies and beliefs. Hence, it is best to refrain from talking about sensitive issues such as politics (both office and otherwise), religion, sexual orientation, etc to avoid uncomfortable situations.
- Be positive: Finally, embrace your internship with a positive attitude. That, and the willingness to adapt and learn, will take you places and make your experience a life changing one. An internship will give you a taste of what your future career will be like, so work hard to get that enriching experience that you deserve.
About the author:
Aniket Singh works for Apple Inc. in California, United States. He is also the author of “Intern Abroad This Summer”.
Aniket holds a BTech degree in Electrical Engineering from the IIT, Madras, Chennai, and a Master’s degree in Wireless Systems from Politecnico Di Torino in Torino, Italy. He has interned at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom and Ecole Polytechnic Federale de Lausanne in Lausanne, Switzerland during this studies.
Visit him at www.aniketsingh.com
Check out his book at www.internabroadthissummer.com