If you study a science or engineering course at a Nigerian university, at some point , you’ll be required to work as an industrial trainee or intern at an organisation where you can learn the practical side of the course you are studying. These days, some non-science students are also required to be industrial trainees as well but the older I get, the more I realise that even if a university doesn’t require it, everyone should take up an internship in an organisation within the industry they would like to work in someday.
There are many reasons to be an industrial trainee whether it counts towards a university degree or not. For one thing, it helps you decide if that industry really is the one for you plus it opens your eyes to how different what you learn in class is from the real world. You also get work experience which is a good way to differentiate yourself from other candidates when you start looking for a proper job. Finally, if you make a good impression as an intern, you may end up being employed full-time when you eventually need a juob.
For any employer to consider retaining an intern, that person must make a good impression on them. If you want to be the intern that everyone remembers (for positive reasons ofcourse), there are two things you need to do:
- Be eager
- Be nice
I am always surprised by the number of interns I come across who don’t seem to understand how important those two things are. The funny thing is that neither one of them is difficult to do. By ‘be eager’, I mean show that the work you are doing is important to you and make no mistake about it, even if the most difficult thing you are asked to do is empty the wastepaper basket at precisely 5pm everyday, it is still work. One way to show you are eager is to ask for work. When I was an intern, I asked for things to do so often that one of my bosses called me importunate. I had to look it up in the dictionary 🙂 Eventually, I was asked if I would like my period of internship extended. It’s not rocket-science. If you want your bosses to remember you, be punctual, ask for work, ask for ways you can help, if you are supposed to empty the bins at 5pm, do it at 4:55pm.
Apart from being eager, it is important to be nice. One of my favourite bloggers talks a lot about the importance of being nice in the workplace. People want to work with people they like and if you are nice, people will like you. Being eager and being nice is an unforgettable combination. Be eager, be nice and you’ll be on your way to being the best intern ever.
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