There are over four million internships carried out in Europe, an experience that is increasingly becoming a vital requirement for finding a job. The Netherlands, the UK, Spain, and France are just a few countries in which a degree or diploma in Information Technology (IT) can open the doors to paid (or unpaid) time abroad. If you are planning on completing your internship, how can you make your stay memorable and impactful, so much so that your good work may actually land you a job or offer or, at the very least, a great recommendation letter? If doing a great job matters just as much (or more) to you than getting paid for this short but important time in your career, what considerations should you keep in mind?
Conduct Research into the Company
You may have a general notion about the company you will be completing an internship in, but you should additionally look into matters such as their client base, full range of services, and corporate culture. By looking at completed projects, you can request to help a department that lies within your area of speciality - be it programming, computer support, or database administration. If the company specialises in one area, read up on it and find out the latest developments in the field. If you have learned new technologies in your recent course, share your knowledge with the company so they can update outdated or less efficient processes. Finally, use the company’s social media pages to elicit more information about aspects such as dress codes and to assess the ambience (laidback/formal etc.) at your chosen company.
Behave like a Real Employee
It is important to enter a company confidently, greeting and liaising with others as equals. You might be a little younger than the staff at your chosen company, but don’t let this make you feel small or insignificant. Asking questions, offering to help, and letting superiors know when you are finished with a task will show that you are there to actually provide value to their company — not just to tick another box on your CV. Some new areas where you might be able to shine include search optimization for varying industries, including the legal field or technology field. The latter essentially centres on leveraging the power of the web to boost IT revenues. Over the past couple of years, major strides have been conducted in everything from SEO strategy to keyword analysis, so if you have focussed on any of these areas, let your company know.
Many companies are worried about overloading interns with work; this is especially true if the intern is not being paid. However, if you have agreed to work at an office for a specific number of hours a day, then keeping busy will make the experience more engaging and ensure you aren’t bored. If you have been assigned one or two tasks, ensure they are perfectly delivered. In the case of written work, pay attention to the clarity of your language, your spelling, and your use of grammar. Once you are certain your work is perfect, let your mentor or supervisor know the number of similar tasks you can complete in a day. Your superiors may have plenty more tasks they would like to delegate to someone capable of performing it as well as full-time employees.
If you are completing an IT internship, find out as much as you can about your chosen company before you arrive there. This will ensure that if requested, you can identify the department you are best suited to work in. Take your work seriously and ensure your time management skills are up to scratch. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for more work or gently suggest improvements which, if adopted, will make a lasting impression that your company will undoubtedly be thankful for.