I graduated from university almost 5 years ago. With each year that goes by, I become more convinced that my early internships and work experience may be some of the defining moments in my career.
When I speak to students about doing more work experience, I always emphasise that the goal isn’t to get it right the first time (or the second, or the third). It’s about getting out there, seeing what’s available and understanding more about the paths available to you. Internships also help you develop the skills that will help an employer see your potential and give you the first big break you need.
Internships teach you how to work in a job and prove to employers that you are reliable to show up every day and learn the tasks of the job. I remember how hard it was to work for eight hours a day, five days a week in my first couple of internships.
The key and most underrated value you get from work experience is the insight they give you into different careers and industries. This opportunity for exploration can be the difference between an exciting and hopeful start to a career, and a harder more confusing one. That’s not to say getting an internship or two behind you means you will have it all figured out. Most people never feel like they have their careers figured out.
During the years when you have access to these internships, you will likely have the most flexibility to try out new things. Try to figure out what skills you have, which skills you need to improve and the types of things you can see yourself doing every day. It’s much easier to do that while you’re studying than a few years down the line.
At the very least, every internship that doesn’t tick all your boxes, is one step closer to finding a career that will fulfil rather than frustrate you. Sometimes knowing what you don’t want is much better than assuming you know what you want.
This article was written by Seri Guobadia, Product Director.