How to get the most out of your internship
March 19, 2019
An internship is a great way to get hands-on real-world experience and give you a really good flavour of what it’s like to work at an organisation. Mantri Boange, who manages the internship program at Accenture shares her tips for getting the most out of your internship, whether it's at Accenture or another organisation.
On campus, talking to students on intern and graduate opportunities.
What you learn in the classroom is very different to learning on the job. While there are transferable skills and knowledge you will gain from your university studies, how things function in a work environment can be quite different.
During your internship, you get the opportunity to work on real projects to get a flavour of the work an organisation does. It also gives you a good understanding of the culture and the opportunity to meet your potential future colleagues.
An internship at Accenture might also be a stepping stone to a career with us once you graduate. However, what you put in is what you get out!
Our interns joining us on campus at university career fairs.
So here are my top tips to get the most out of your internship:
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Sometimes interns fear that just because they are students or inexperienced that they'll be asking the wrong types of questions. There’re no wrong questions. I would say, “if you don't know something, ask”. People are there to help you, they're not competing against you. It’s the best way to learn and absorb information.
Expand your network and try to get to know your broader team. Also make connections with your intern cohort who might be working in some of the other area of the business. At Accenture, there is no defined seating arrangement and you could find yourself sitting next to a senior leader. Take that opportunity to get to know them. Making connections with Senior Managers or Leadership could be a little daunting but most of our leaders are some of the most approachable people and more than willing to have a chat. Reach out to them, ask them if they are free to join you for a coffee. The answer most often than not would be a YES because ultimately you could be the future of their team.
Also take the opportunity to get to know people from other areas of the business, not just your area. Understand what their work is and what their experiences have been so that you get an overall idea of what the whole organisation is all about. If you're invited to a work function go around introduce yourself and make those connections - they’ll be important down the track.
Don't shy away from adding value
Share your ideas with your project and wider teams. We are always keen on new ideas and different perspectives. If you see something that might work feel free to speak up and share your ideas because in the consulting world it is all about collaboration, thinking outside the box and coming up with creative ideas to provide solutions to clients. Your team might be thinking in a particular way, but an intern might have a completely different idea that we would never have thought of. So, speak up!
Take constructive criticism
Taking constructive criticism well and asking for feedback is very important. Naturally, no one likes being criticised but mistakes happen and is part of any learning process. It's always important to keep in mind that it’s not personal. Feedback is for your own benefit and growth so that you can improve the quality of your work. Ask for that feedback in terms of how you're doing and how you can improve. But on the other hand, it’s a balance - you need to also believe in your own abilities.
Build your portfolio
Document the work you are doing as you go, because this is something you can reference once you’ve finished your internship. Be it updating your CV when applying for graduate roles, leveraging on what you have learnt through your internship for a university project or even to get course credits as part of your Work Integrated Learning (WIL), having all you have done and leant through your internship documented will come in handy (just keep in mind client confidentiality and don’t mention anything you shouldn’t).
Our 2018 interns.
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