Are you going to intern somewhere this summer? Or are you planning to do that after your graduation? Never done it in your life? Are you willing to improve your “internship hunting capabilities”?
If so, you are just looking at the right column!
For two months I will be telling you everything about the internship, both in terms of technicalities, like the CV and the cover letter, and of attitudes, like energy and autonomy.
In a midsummer’s time: a midsummer’s internship guide. Hot topic of the day is: Retribution!
R for Retribution
“Time is money” stated Benjamin Franklin in XVIII century. Unluckily, this rule doesn’t hold for all of today’s internships.
Retribution depends on the company size: small and medium enterprises usually don’t pay interns, big firms are more generous. It depends also on the industry: for example, in finance sector, internship is paid; in elderly care one, you might be “paid” only with affection from your smiling patients.
Hence, you should know retribution before starting the internship. Typically, pay is reported in the advertisement of the position. If it is not there, probably there is no reimburse. Anyhow, make sure of that by directly asking questions at the recruiter, if the “mystery of the pay” is not solved during the interview. No compensation doesn’t necessarily mean that you should reject an internship offer; instead, you should think carefully about accepting that, balancing the pros and the cons of this option both from a professional and economical perspective.
S for Sense of Responsibility
You’re doing an internship you can’t stand any more. You arrive early, you work hard all day, you finish late… maybe it was better going to university: you stayed all day with your friends and you attended only some lessons: in other words, you were free to decide. What about pushing the “exit option” so “internship is over”?
Before doing that, think about these focal points:
- An internship surely means revolutionizing your routine. Even in self-employed jobs like lawyer and doctor, when you are young you practically look like more to an employed person then to a self-employed one. It’s not a social injustice, but rather how working life works: in order to learn a job, you should take some excellent professional as your guide in the career world.
- On the one hand, working life doesn’t mean only compensation and success; they’re effects. The causes are your efforts and their acknowledgment by the company. On the other hand, working isn't like going out with your friends, where you can change your mind and postpone a meeting. Doing an internship implies that you’re committed to the firm until the internship ends.
- If you want to become a professional, start acting like one: giving up when the internship starts to get rough is not exactly the right way to convey this message, is it?
In conclusion, entry to adulthood means both being able to do what you want and being responsible of that. At work, you can give up your internship if you don’t like it. It’s ok for serious reasons, like: an absent tutor, a missing pay despite it was promised, a work completely different from what you agreed on (see “Jack-in-the-box” and “Quality of the Internship”). Otherwise: never give up, remembering what said Joseph Patrick Kennedy, the father of John Fitzgerald: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going".
T for Tutor
You’ve just started an internship. So many new places, faces, things to do… honestly, you are getting lost. Lost in transition. The transition from university to internship. But there’s someone who acts as a lighthouse in the dark: your tutor.
The tutor is the person within the company you work for. But don’t think he/she is only your boss. A good tutor helps you in your induction in the company, especially in dealing with the Company Culture (“Naturalize to the company”).
In conclusion, don’t be afraid to ask if you’re seriously getting lost in transition, balancing that with self-sufficiency (see “Autonomy”).
By Valentina Magri, MA student in Management at Bocconi University