“An internship is just to experience the work environment of a certain company”. Too many people have this stereotype, which I must admit I did too, and albeit it being partially true, there is so much more to this wonderful opportunity that could improve you as a worker, a person, and your future.
Just in case some of you might have not heard of the term “internship” before, let me begin by explaining the definition: An internship is “the position of a student or trainee who works in an organization, sometimes without pay, in order to gain work experience or satisfy requirements for a qualification”, according to Google.
To be honest, I had no clue what an internship is until my second year in university.
What do you do in an internship? Is there really any point in doing it? Not to mention, working for free never made sense to my young ears. However, that changed completely after I volunteered in an annually held event called the Slush Tokyo. This event shed light on things I never experienced before; startups, venture capitalists, pitches, investors, and last but not least, internships. Surrounded by various companies competing to be the best in their respective industries, this was my entry to what I would like to call, the “business world”.
Being exposed to this new “stimuli”, it pushed me to learn more about how the business world functions, until I reached a certain point where I couldn’t contain my desire to be a part of it and experience it firsthand. That’s when I applied for an internship at a startup, a company offering a coworking space, as well as event space rentals, for the creative minds and professionals in Tokyo.
One of my biggest regrets is not starting internships earlier.
Although it does depend on the company to a certain degree, most internships give you opportunities that allow you to do your best, and forces you to level up, as compared to a typical part-time job. This was the case for mine.
Here’s a list to what I believe you can gain from most internships:
- Hard skills advantageous for your future career.
- A great influence on your mindset, changing how you percept tasks and general things in life.
- Soft skills that stay with you, affecting not only your professional, but also your private life.
- The expansion of your professional network.
These skills will benefit you no matter what, as they are a constant positive for your career as well as your resume. Compared to most part-time jobs where many teach you soft skills such as effective communication, internships go above and beyond regarding the potential hard skills you can acquire.
For example, let’s look at what I did in the company:
- Analyzing SEO and MEO keywords of the market within the same industry, and using this information to create effective google ads. [Marketing]
- Digital SNS Marketing (In charge of all social media). [Marketing]
- Create a new community, and appointed as main organizer of events for this group.[Event Organizing]
- Design different materials required for various situations, such as event posters and banners, using Adobe Illustrator. [Design]
- Filling weekly reports of event revenues/costs and data. [Management]
- Manage and make changes to our official website, along with creating appropriate landing pages for different google ads with their respective content. [Management]
- Writing online articles/blogs regarding the company to the specified target. [Marketing]
- Meeting potential clients of Blink and turning them to customers by building rapport and introducing the facility precisely and positively. [Sales]
- Experience meetings where I can take part in planning the future of the business. [Management]
- Contact third party organizations to promote our product. [Marketing]
- Overhaul of the homepage to improve user experience. [Marketing]
- Support operation of facility in order to achieve highest customer satisfaction. [Operation]
Now, I dare you to guess what “position” I applied for when I first came to know Blink. Pretty hard isn’t it? The culture of doing ‘lots of many things’ is a common aspect in the startup world, and it stays true for this internship. Some may say, “but isn’t that a bad thing, since we applied to do what the job title mentioned?”. The answer to that is, yes and no. Yes, if you are a student that has a concrete objective and has one specific role that you want to excel, in which case you will be better off in a company that allows you to focus on that job. However, for most students, that’s not the case, and being able to do many different jobs from various fields is a wonderful way to find out what you really like, as well as gaining valuable experience in a wide area.
Soft Skills, Mindset
Many internships will have a professional that helps you through your journey and offers advices to work more efficiently, smarter, and above all, attaining a growth mindset. As was the case for me, where my mentor taught me valuable lessons and mindsets to keep when doing different tasks. My favorite was, “how much you gain from a task is up to you, the most boring job could become the most interesting one depending on your mindset”. After hearing this, I focused to learning why I do a certain task, as well as the objective that it hoped to achieve by being completed, which proved to be great ways to hone my analytical skills.
With a challenging environment forcing you to do your best, comes improvement in soft skills, such as teamwork, communication, adaptation, etc. In many cases, you will find yourself in meetings where you are expected to speak, listen to feedback, and sometimes even facilitate the discussion. It’s a huge win if you already know how to effectively participate in a meeting, right from the moment you enter a full-time job! Some other aspects that I have improved upon are in areas of time-management, business language, and keeping calm under pressure.
Joining an internship means that you will be exposed to far more encounters with professionals from different companies. Personally speaking, I’ve met many influential CEOs, individuals working in top companies in their respective industries, professors from universities, and last but not least, professionals in startups. My network has grown far beyond what I would have ever expected, and it is these connections that help me create events with the community I manage, and it is them that educate me with even more knowledge. Knowing more people means having more opportunities, and it could potentially even help when you’re job hunting! Be sure to use LinkedIn for managing your professional network, as it is a worldwide platform that has the biggest user base in this area.
Overall, I’d say an internship lies between part-time and full-time jobs. Doing it will certainly give you a head start and allow you to be a competitive individual within your industry. After experiencing the internship, I’ve learned many things, too many to count, and they influenced me greatly in the way I think, the way I operate, and most importantly, allowed me to be ready for the upcoming adventure ahead. Hence, why I mentioned that you would be able to be one step ahead. Thank you for reading, and hope you are on your way to begin your next chapter!
Not sure how to find internships? Try searching for internships inside LinkedIn through the “Jobs” feature!