Internship tips and tricks for students

    Internships are an integral part of any MBA course and very much so here at Athena School of Management.

    In today’s competitive world, finding the ‘right’ kind of internship prpgrams for the students can be a daunting task for coordinators in MBA institutes.

    Keeping in mind the level of experience, expertise and preferences of students on one side and the intention of the institutes to make the internship process as much of learning experience as possible.

    In my experience, students especially those straight out of college, often have several expectations (in terms of their salary, job profile, less physically demanding) before going on an internship. However, it is always recommended to go with an open mind as an intern especially when you have no prior experience.

    Here are some tips and tricks for you students to make the internship process educational and equally enjoyable.

    1. Know about your company and the industry as a whole :
      Oftentimes, students go to an internship program just to ‘get away’ from the drudgery of lectures and exams. They go to a company as an intern knowing hardly anything about it, its work culture. This not only gives oneself the tag of being ‘not serious enough’ but also makes the whole experience uninteresting. Take the internship program like a test – the topic of which you already know of but simply need to research on it and give your best to score more marks. Hence it is very important students, to know which company has chosen you, what the company deals in and what would be your role in it. Do your research!

    2. Enhance your online persona :
      In today’s world, everything is digital. In companies like Facebook and Google, interviewers often reply a lot on the candidate’s online profile to get an idea about their tastes and preferences, point of views and even their general knowledge. A colleague of mine had once suggested me to Google myself up and see the search results before going for a job interview. It is absolutely alright to have pictures of you with your friends at a party or strongly worded articles or blogs that you have written – just make sure that suitable privacy settings are in place so that none of them pose any risk factor to your potential employee.

    3. Understand the media :
      In today’s world, electronic media plays a very important role in marketing, promoting, distributing and networking. Interns especially from non-technical background may find it a challenge to constantly upgrade their knowledge about digital media (if their job profile requires so). Hence it is essential to know for interns, to what extent would they be required to use information technology and of what kind – Until now you may have been using Facebook and Twitter for your personal space – now the same platforms would be required for promotion and networking as a part of the company. Gaining basic technical knowledge beforehand, from someone already familiar with such platforms would be helpful.

    4. Never say ‘no’ :
      This is a trait which not just an intern but any employee should inculcate. Be pro-active. Do not depend excessively on others. While no one expects you to know (And do marketing related tasks when your department is Hr – there is no harm in being open to learn certain general tasks – example learn to make a good cup of coffee, file papers in the correct order and keep an account or print both sides of a paper by learning to operate a printer/fax machine). In an organization, though everyone has a specific set of duties to perform, there can always be a situation where one has to do things which are beyond their immediate line of responsibilities. In such cases, it is wise to learn (and master) simple things which would be of use to all employees irrespective of their designation. In the hour of need, knowing to do the basic things around your workplace will hold you in good stead.

    5. Expressing Gratitude :
      Finally, THIS tip according to me should be right at the top of the ‘to-do’ list especially for today’s generation. Think of how many times you have thanked your professors, coordinators and even friends for helping you see through a tough decision or complete a difficult task? Get into the habit of personal gratitude. Write a simple handwritten note to anyone who helped you in landing the internship – giving you the required guidance and motivation – it could be your coordinator, teacher, class-mates. You will not only feel good but make others feel good about something they did for you selflessly but also create goodwill and increase future such possibilities (may be better!)

    At Athena, the internship processes are typically from 2-6 months. Some are paid and some are unpaid. We at Athena, encourage our students to think of t e internship process as an investment for a prosperous career in the future. The time span is short. Try to keep an open and positive mind, willing to learn from mistakes and take on new challenges – because remember, internships help you to create a preparatory ground for a sound career in the future. Lost time never comes back, so try and make your internship experience less of a chore and more of a rewarding experience.

    - Prof. Anwesha Ghosh (Athena School of Management - Powai)