During the early stages of your working life, or throughout your student years. You are always told about supposed career faux pas which you must avoid at all costs. Here we help you remove the noise and outline the 4 biggest career mistakes you can make.
If you can avoid these 4 mistakes, you will be on a fast-track to career bliss.
1) Ignoring your passion
One of the most important aspects of career success is the consistency of your career path with your passions. If you are passionate about your work, then it won’t seem like a chore. Not only will you feel fulfilled if you do what you love, but over time you will become great at what you do. In short, if you follow your passion, not only will you enjoy what you are doing, additionally you will be better at what you do.
Discovering your true passions can sometimes be incredibly difficult. The philosopher Allan Watts suggests, considering what you would do if money was not an object. For example, if money didn’t matter, what would you do with your time? It can also be a useful exercise to think back to your dreams and hobbies when you were younger.
2) Setting your expectations too low
If you set your expectations too low, there is little opportunity for you to achieve anything worthwhile in your life. By setting your expectations too low, you limit your opportunities.
Ambition is the fuel that will light the fire of your career. Human beings are goal fulfilling machines, if your aspirations are too low you will be stuck in a limbo of mediocrity. It is not your skills or talent that limits you, rather it is your vision and your drive to achieve that matters.
3) Missing out on relevant experience
Work experience, internships, volunteering, blah, blah, blah. You are constantly told that you must have experience to have a successful career.
According to Forbes 66% of employers value work experience more than academic experience. But satisfying an employer isn’t the only reason to get experience in your chosen field. Experience lets you try things out, learn about a particular field and make your mistakes before being thrown in the deep end.
4) Not networking and burning bridges
“When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.” – Michelle Obama
Once they’ve got that job, many people will simply stop networking. This is completely the wrong approach to networking, networking should be a two-way exchange. The key to continual career growth is the mutual exchange of assistance that is afforded by networking.
One burnt bridge, could be a missed opportunity further down the line. This implies the importance of continually managing your network and helping others connect with potential opportunities that may be of interest to them.
The old adage “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” becomes increasingly valid as the years go by.
It’s not a stretch to say internships have become indispensable. The competition for jobs has never been stiffer. When making hiring decisions, Capital Placement notes, employers will lean heavily towards students who have at least some internship experience under their belts.
So, what does an intern do exactly?
Contrary to popular belief, completing an internship isn’t easy. If you think internships are about fetching coffee for everyone and generally riding on the team’s coattails, toss your expectations out the window. Modern intern roles – even the support kind – are as taxing and responsibility-ridden as full-time jobs!
It’s important you enter your internship with the right mindset. If you don’t know what to expect from your internship role, you’ll be better prepared and know what you need to do to succeed. Also, carrying out your intern responsibilities successfully will assist you in building up a potent skillset.
What is an intern?
An intern is a trainee who has signed on with an organization for a brief period. An intern’s goal is to gain work experience, occasionally some university credit, and always an overall feel for the industry they’re interning in.
Internships may be paid, partially paid, or unpaid. The engagement period may range from a handful of weeks up to 2 years. With longer-term internships, you’ll almost always be compensated in some way. The compensation may include a monthly wage, accommodation, travel expenses, and a food allowance.
Many companies require you to complete an internship with them before they even consider you for a full-time role.
What does an intern do?
So what does an intern do exactly? That depends on the industry in question and the kind of internship you’ve signed up for. Research internships come with a different set of roles and responsibilities than, say, an internship geared toward easing you into a full-time role.
An intern is primarily a support role – at least in the beginning. When you join up, your main job will be to assist, learn, and grow. After you’ve settled in, you’ll be expected to pull your own weight.
Here’s a general overview of the work you can expect to do as an intern:
1. Assist in day-to-day tasks
As an intern, don’t expect to spearhead a critical project anytime soon. But that’s by no means a bad thing. You’ll be groomed to spearhead projects in the future. Your boss will give you general errands to educate you on to the ins-and-outs of the organisation, to gauge your general skill set, and also to bring your skills up to par.
Here are some day-to-day intern roles and their responsibilities:
- Performing clerical duties: It’s almost a guarantee you’ll be taking memos, maintaining files, organising, sorting, creating PowerPoint presentations, drafting reports, and the like.
- Managing social media and emails: You may be asked to handle the company’s social media accounts, write emails to customers, talk to clients on the phone, and similar duties.
- Event handling: Interns are often asked to oversee the scheduling of appointments, organising conference rooms, and taking care of the food and drink.
- Research: Interns fresh from a university education have a great deal of up-to-date knowledge. Your organisation may put this knowledge to good use by placing you in a research role. You may be asked to assist in streamlining an organisation’s work process in some way.
2. Learn and gain experience
You’ll be expected to learn as much as you possibly can while you work, regardless of the kind of internship you’ve signed up for. What kind of learning will you be doing? It can be broken down into two main areas:
- Picking up hard skills: Hard skills are the technical skills you need to carry out your intern responsibilities, and eventually job duties, successfully. Examples include learning how to operate a computer program, drafting a company report, handling the company inventory, and maintaining the company database.
- Brushing up on your soft skills: Soft skills are as important as hard skills. Soft skills are all about your ability to relate to people and building mutually-beneficial relationships. Examples are talking, listening, conflict handling, time management, and development of empathy. You need soft skills to manage clients, not to mention get along with your bosses and colleagues.
3. Job shadow
Job shadowing has become the norm recently. As the name suggests, the practice involves “shadowing” someone as they perform their daily duties, observing their activities, and learning what the role entails via indirect experience. This is an especially popular practice in hands-on fields like engineering and healthcare.
How does this work exactly? When you join the organisation, you may be assigned a mentor. The first few weeks, you may be tasked with following them around. They’ll show you the ropes while they work. You may be asked to assist with light tasks here and there. You’ll be encouraged to ask questions. Eventually, you’ll be trained to take over the position and of intern roles.
4. Take on an increasing amount of responsibility
As time goes by, expect to shoulder an increasing amount of responsibility. Initially, they’ll gauge your current skill set and reliability with “grunt” work. As you prove yourself to your colleagues and bosses, you’ll be entrusted with more crucial tasks. The better you perform, the more the responsibilities you’ll be given.
When you join as an intern, it’s always smart to give it your all. The work may feel uninspiring initially. That’s understandable. But if you can demonstrate enthusiasm and perform without complaining, you’ll slowly but surely work your way to the good stuff.
Interns who really impress their bosses can expect glowing recommendations, if not an offer for full-time work.
While networking isn’t an official requirement as such, it might as well be. Networking involves building relationships with your bosses, colleagues, and customers and clients. You’ll need the backing and support of people in places to build a successful career. Also, building good relationships with customers is always good for the organisation.
Here are some examples of the kind of networking interns do:
- Finding a mentor: Mentors act as anchor roles for interns. If you find a good one, you can follow in their footsteps and build a successful career just like your mentor.
- Forming a peer support group: Interning is hard. Finding a peer support group who is going through all the ups and downs with you will make it much more enjoyable for everyone involved.
- Getting in with bosses and coworkers: Interns who can build strong individual bonds with their coworkers and bosses become a part of the “family”. You’re much more likely to be offered a full-time role at the company down the road.
6. Make a career call
Finally, usually at the tail-end of your internship, you have to make a career-defining decision: continue in the field you interned in or try your hand at something else entirely.
You got a taste of what working in your industry full-time would be like. Did you love the experience and can’t wait to dive back in again? Or do you feel you’d be happier doing something else?
Internships are usually short-term. They’re smaller investments in time and energy than full-time jobs. Consequently, they’re perfect opportunities to explore your options. You deserve work that’s fulfilling. If necessary, you can sign up for a different but related internship role elsewhere to see if you’re happier there.
Your internship is going to shape the course of your career. It’ll assist you in acquiring the skills you need to perform up-to-par when you’re hired full-time. It’s essential you use your internship as the training opportunity it represents.
You’re sure to have a bright future if you work hard, build positive relationships, and remain grateful for the internship opportunity. Capital Placement can assist you in securing a life-changing internship opportunity abroad, in line with your talents, skill-set, and career goals. Reach out to us now!
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