Starting an internship can be daunting, you’re in an office full of people in big positions with big personalities. As an intern fresh out of (or still in) university with no industry experience so you feel like you are constantly off balance as you have no validated leg to stand on. The question you ask yourself is, ‘Am I here to do actual work, or should I make the tea and coffee?’

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We’ve all heard the stories about how interns are the office scapegoat for everything wrong with the world and should act like the children of Victorian England being ‘seen and not heard’. In theory, you should count your lucky blessings and kiss the feet of any employee who asks you to print any document that carries more importance than a receipt for a Tesco meal deal. So, can you really complain if director so-and-so asks for extra cinnamon in their black coffee with a quarter teaspoon of sugar? Well the answer is yes, yes you can.

The definition of an internship, according to google is, “The position of a student or trainee who works in an organisation, sometimes without pay, in order to gain work experience or satisfy requirements for a qualification.” This seems beneficial for all parties, providing everyone fully recognises what is meant by the term ‘work experience’. From an intern’s point of view this is ‘finding yourself’, gaining industry knowledge that you can use to spread your wings and prosper for the rest of your life. However, to the corporate world ‘work experience’ can mean nothing short of legal slave labour. The goal for you, the intern, is to rise above the status quo and make your internship something that is beneficial to you and your peers.

So, can this be done? First you must consider the company you are at. Do they want to help, and are they the right fit for you? I’m finding my internship at AIA Worldwide extremely beneficial due to these three key reasons:

·         The want for personal development  

·         Environment

·         Trust

AIA Worldwide focusses on making life easier and more efficient for businesses when searching for talent. They also make the user experience for candidates more effective, allowing them to find the correct job in a shorter amount of time. I believe this translates into the working environment as everyone works together to achieve a common goal. If you are struggling with a task or have a question, most employees are open and available help. This encourages personal development among all employees and has been extremely beneficial as an intern, allowing me to be more effective in the future when completing tasks. The connectivity when working together allows everyone to gain a mutual trust and respect, meaning you either win together or lose together. This shows how an open office plan garners a family mindset, which begs the question of how this will change in the future. (AR workspaces in the office anyone?). 

Trust is a major factor in whether I consider experiences to be fulfilling, demonstrated by receiving tasks of genuine importance that matter to the company. It is difficult to take a role seriously if you believe your work is inconsequential, and leads to little or no learning or personal growth. An intern’s duty is to push for a substantial, challenging piece of work that gives you a chance to impress your colleagues and add worth to the business.

The key for any internship is to make it your own, focus on building yourself as a person and making life easier for those around you. No matter how insignificant you may or may not feel, remember, everyone has to start somewhere, you just have to make sure you end up in the place you want to be.

P.S. It can’t hurt if you become a professional barista at the same time… right?