Episode One: How To Get The Experience You Need As An Intern

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Many, if not most, young people do not understand why they need to undertake internships or attachments. Internships seems to be yet another perfunctory requirement on the journey to a full-time, well-paying job, and one can almost hear the collective sighs and groans of interns across the country that cannot wait to get to the real work.

To the common question,

“What did you do at YZ internship?”

These young workers respond with a quick job description. Something to the tune,

“The job entailed doing 1, 2, 3”

after which there is silence and an expectation of the next question.But is the question really answered? Absolutely not. Dear jobseeker, listing your job description does not prove that you can actually do “1, 2 and 3”, neither does it show that you actually excelled at doing “1, 2 and 3”. And these are precisely the abilities employers are looking to gauge in that interview. Experience has much more to do with proven performance than a long list of internships undertake and years served.

When I insist on understanding what was done at an internship, the applicant in question will normally bow his head and mumble,

“I was not in a position to make things happen.”

Therein lays the problem. Young jobseekers are captive to an unfortunate trio of misconceptions: that one should wait to be assigned tasks at the workplace; that all tasks are equal; and that the completion of a task constitutes results. The opposite is true.

Those who are focused on building their CVs know that they must seek out and position themselves for the kinds of tasks that make for tangible results. They also know that results are only of interest if they are quantifiable and actually impact an organization.

A potential employer looks at your CV as follow: you did YZ and so what? Can you make any claim of having impacted the organization you worked for in a significant manner or were you just a body in the room, shifting paper from point A to point B?

Keep the tab open for part two which is underway. Don’t be left out, get it and use it.

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