Role of an intern: What to expect from your internship role

It’s not a stretch to say internships have become indispensable. The competition for jobs has never been stiffer. In recent studies, employers have indicated a pull towards those with relevant experience before graduating vs those without. So how do you get relevant experience? Internships. 

Internships give you insight into your dream industry, network, grow your practical knowledge AND give you a competitive edge over your peers. Sounds great, but there’s one key thing we are missing… 

So, what does an intern do exactly?

Contrary to popular belief, an internship isn’t about organising a filing cabinet or fetching coffee for your boss. The responsibilities of an intern has evolved. In many internships programs, you’ll find yourself working on project, managing a small team and even working along some executives. 

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 that will shine in your next role. 

What is an intern? 

An intern is a trainee who has signed on with an organisation 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. However, there has been an increase in the number of paid internship opportunities, woo! 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. Other benefits could be a stipend gym membership or even a personal laptop. 

It’s also not uncommon to receive a full-time offer upon completion of your internship with a company. Studies show that employers like to hire interns and use their internships as well to source new talent for their company.      

Where can you intern?

You can intern pretty much anywhere you would like. Fancy working for a digital marketing agency in London or learning about corporate finance in New York or Singapore? Consider interning abroad! An international internship can help give you an competitive edge in today’s saturated job market. Even better, an international internship is a fantastic way to help you build a global career and network. 

If going abroad or moving across the country is not quite what you’re ready for, you always have the option of pursuing a remote internship. Remote internships are the ability to intern with a global company in comfort in your own home as everything, you guessed it, is online. Though you may not physically be abroad, there are still numerous benefits to interning remotely. 

In addition to this, the amount of remote internship opportunities available has steadily increased. As a result of this, you can now intern on your own terms. 

Essentially what we are getting at here is that the world is your oyster. Take advantage of it!

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 in accounting. 

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 and contribute to the team!

As an intern, don’t expect to spearhead a critical project right off the bat…at least not yet. In the beginning of your internship, you may your time simply trying to learn how the company works. You may shadow an employee to get an understanding of their role. After a day or a few days of learning the ins-and-outs of the company. You’ll start to assist and contribute more to the team. 

Here are some day-to-day intern roles and their responsibilities:   

  • Performing clerical duties: Creating PowerPoint presentations, drafting reports, designing creatives, researching trends 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.  Your day may include designing social media posts, scheduling them and creating a general strategy for your posts. 
  • Event handling: Interns are often asked to oversee the scheduling of important events. You may asked to help get everything prepared for an important. From securing the location to assisting the creation of a theme to sourcing your key speakers. 
  • 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 look into a new project and give your recommendations on how best to execute it. 

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 some technical skills to management skills to understanding data analytics.    
  • 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 emotional intelligence, motivation, people-skills, listening, and excellent communication. You need soft skills to manage clients, not to mention get along with your bosses and colleagues. Soft skills are key to navigating your work environment and can even contribute to job progression. Word of the wise, don’t underestimate them.

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. Job shadowing is an excellent way to get a deeper understanding of what it will be like to work in your industry on a day-to-day basis.

Once you’ve shadowed for a while, you may be asked to help your mentor on projects or eventually take over some of their tasks.

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 your initial workload. 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. 

This is an excellent opportunity to showcase your abilities to your employer. It can also help contribute to you receiving a full-time role afterwards. However, don’t feel like you need to shoulder more than you can handle. Employers prefer quality over quantity – don’t afraid to ask for help if you need it.  Interns who can display that they can handle additional work and keep with tight deadlines will be more likely to impress the boss. 

5. Network 

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? That’s the beauty of an internship0 you can always go into another field you would like. 

Final Thoughts

Internships are usually short-term. They’re smaller investments in time and energy than full-time jobs. But they are certainly without a doubt a great investment of your time. 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 use the skills you develop in your internship to your advantage.

Looking for an internship? 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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Capital Placement offering global internship programmes for students and recent graduates since 2012 with one of our 1500+ partner companies across 25+ industries.

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