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10 Life Lessons Every Intern Must Learn to Succeed

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Listen up interns! Here’s a few nuggets of invaluable wisdom (from a fellow intern), that’ll help you nail down a position in your new team and become an irreplaceable asset to the company you’re hoping to make your full-time employer:

1. Get over yourself!

So you’ve either just graduated or you’ve decided to take your career in a different direction. Either way, an internship can be mutually beneficial for both you and the company you want to start with. One thing you need to do is check your ego at the door. If you’ve made a conscious decision that this is the company you want to work for, then you have to view your term as an intern as a hurdle you must complete in order to achieve your goal.


2. It’s not meant to be easy!

To paraphrase a great American president, don’t do something because it is easy, do it because it is hard! The whole point of doing an internship is that you’re meant to be doing things that you’ve never done before. You are meant to be out of your comfort zone! So relax and just go with it.

3. Failure is always an option…

As you are learning entirely new skills and at times it can be overwhelming, you are going to make mistakes. And it’s okay, you are not meant to be an expert in the field over night so doesn’t treat yourself like one. Learn from your mistakes and don’t get paralysed by your analysis of your performance either.


4. Don’t be shy

You are entering a new realm of different personalities and that can be daunting initially. If you have a new idea to improve any aspect of the business or current work environment, then by all means speak up. There are no wrong answers and most CEO’s out there love ideas being shared regardless of how crazy they seem! You miss 100% of the shots you never take.

5. Money is something, but not everything

This point is applicable to anyone doing an unpaid/supplemented internship. From time to time you’ll hear people say that money isn’t everything, and they’re right, but it is something of great importance. It is a resource that fuels our every existence but if you can set aside the time now to work hard and prove yourself to your new colleagues, your position within the business can be solidified. To sacrifice what you are now for what you will become? That’s dedication.

6. Lead the way

You are more than likely entering an environment where your colleagues are superstars (or ninjas) at their current job. Why else would you want to do an internship with them?! The focus and intensity it takes within their role can sometimes lead to peripheral blindness. If people are killing it daily and are now comfortable with their current way of doing things, that they don’t see a better or new way of doing things on the horizon or in their periphery. As an outsider and a “newb” to the business, you should try and demonstrate a better or new way of doing things or even a new app/chrome extension to make your colleagues more productive. Go ahead and be evangelical about it. Everyone will be more than happy to hear about something that can either: A) Save them time throughout their day; or B) make them more money!

7. Embrace the culture – Say yes

As part of a new team, you need to adapt to your surroundings and the quickest way is to do it is by getting to know the people you’re going to be spending more time with than your friends or family. Ask to be included in everything you feel you could add value to. Be a yes man, be Jim Carey.


8. Find your micro-niche

In your brief time in this new position, it should be your sole priority to make yourself indispensable to the company. There are very small things you can do to guarantee your permanency within an organisation, outside the black and white lines of a job description. A little goes a long way, from making the coffee in the morning, to fixing the office printer/Wi-Fi or to helping someone proof read a proposal. Just do it! It will stand as a testament to your character and will help you gel with your colleagues. You will be viewed as a team player by your superiors, which will only help your case if you search for permanency within the company.


9. Keep motivated

Everyone has one of those days! You know the ones I’m talking about…. When you wake up and something trivial yet terrible happens to you that sets the tone for the day. After you actually get to work it feels like your desk is surrounded by a tonne of manure, which you must swim through in order to make it to 5 pm. It happens. People are defined by how they let their bad days affect them and others around them. Just remember, the harder you work the luckier you get. Keep the chin up.


10. Enjoy every second of it.

This is probably the only time in your adult life where there will be very little expected of you. The external pressure you feel is from well-wishers and peers hoping you succeed. Most of the burden and will be from within. Push yourself daily but don’t be afraid to enjoy it!

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