According to estimates, over 75% of students take up an internship at some point or the other. In my opinion, gaining the experience of internship is highly beneficial for career growth. It provides a person with the opportunity to evaluate their options, skills and helps them comprehend the intricacies of the career that they aspire for. I started my entrepreneurial journey through internship and acquired a great deal of knowledge from my peers.

As an outsider, I was always fascinated by the world of media. I knew I had that creative instinct ingrained in me, and decided to let it evolve by taking the call to join XIC. In my second year of college, I did an internship with Leo Burnett, and subsequently, in my final year, I interned with Lowe Lintas. My first internship lasted a month, within which I received invaluable exposure to various ideas and creative brains. While being amidst such brilliant minds overwhelmed me initially,  I knew that this experience was going to be highly enriching and totally worth the time. Over the years, I have come to realize that it is crucial to be accountable for every minute of your time.

While at Leo Burnett, I got the opportunity to work on some fantastic brands such as Absolut Vodka, McDonalds, Pepsodent, Haldirams, and others. A major take away from that internship was the understanding I gained about the internal functioning of a creative agency. Subsequently, when I was an intern at Lintas, I was not only focused on learning, but also on implementing this learning. I was involved with the process of working on a major brand like eBay designing a celebrity’s home. Thanks to my prior experience at Leo Burnett, I had a good understanding of the work processes within an organization. These two internships made me more confident and creative, and gave me a great understanding of working as a team player.

The theoretical and hands-on learning that we get from an internship are entirely different. Internships equip you with the skills and professional experience in an arena where you aspire to make a successful career. Furthermore, they are most likely to result in full-time employment. In fact, internships have now become a standard part of the curriculum of institutions and it is mandatory for students to complete them. This is testimony to the importance of acquiring industry exposure alongside gaining academic knowledge.

Apart from the students, internship also helps industry recruiters to gain insights about the kind of talent that is going to enter the industry in the future. I have personally seen some of my interns go on and carve out successful careers for themselves in the industry.

Given this, here is my advice on how you can get the most out of your internship.

First and foremost, always keep an open mind.

Keep an open mind 

It is important to understand that an internship is a limited-time opportunity and therefore, you must make every minute count. As an intern, you will enter a new world, and accept things that you have never done before. To sum it, the tasks and responsibilities given to you in this period will push you out of your comfort zone. Only those with the aptitude to learn can stay relevant in the game. One must always keep an open mind and be receptive to inputs, and help. It is very important to take criticism constructively as a process of learning and evolving.

Be clear about your goals

Before you take up an internship, ensure that you have set specific goals you want to achieve over a period. These could also be certain concepts and beliefs that you aim to learn through the internship. For instance, as a PR agency, we ensure that our interns get exposure to all the departments. Whether it be the media management or client servicing, brainstorming on strategy or helping create content, they must experience it all. This helps them identify their own preferences and locate the areas where they are most interested in. At the end of the day, it is important to ask yourself whether you have enhanced your learning. 

Document your work

It is also important to develop the habit of jotting down your thoughts in a journal. This will help you recall ideas, thoughts, learnings and achievements. This record of your work as an intern also comes in handy while building a portfolio for the future. 

Maintain contact with your work friends

Another major benefit that internships offer is the connections you build. These connections can work to your advantage later provided you maintain a positive relationship with them after the internship tenure is over. The time spent at the workplace symbolizes your personal evolution. On a lighter note, it is the friends who make work more enjoyable!

To any new person whom I hire for my company, I always have the same advice: “we’re small fish in a big pond.” Internships are a great test of your abilities. Rather than simply doing what you are told to do, you must be geared up to deliver more, and go beyond the brief. From punctuality to doing major work, you must focus on creating an impression for yourself and the organization that you work for.