From Student to Intern
3 new working habits to help you make the grade
After years of projects and homework, you’re finally near the end of your school life and ready to search for an internship opportunity. But have you ever wondered what actually goes into preparing for this next step?
Before I started my internship, I was clueless about what was required of me in a team of professionals. The closest I’d come was probably University group projects, and I soon found the two were worlds apart.
In this article I want to share 3 key takeaways from my 6-month internship at Mighty Bear Games as a Programming Intern, after which I was able to secure a full-time position as a Junior Programmer. I hope my experience lets you in on a few key skills to develop during an internship!
While good communication doesn’t always lead to a successful project, projects that lack it are almost definitely bound for failure. Making and acting on assumptions in the face of uncertainty usually only leads to further misunderstanding and confusion. If you don’t understand anything, just ask/clarify — there’s no shame in it!
It pays if you have the initiative to keep the team up to date on your progress with your current task, especially if you are having some difficulty approaching it. Sometimes the issue you’re facing could already have been solved by someone else on the team! If it can’t, it’s still a good idea to let everyone know some extra time might be required, as this allows for proper planning by the project manager.
This might sound like a weird one at first, but don’t rush to get your work/task done. Often, your project is a marathon not a sprint, and rushing will only burn you out in the long run. When I first started my internship, I tried to clear everything on my task list as soon as possible — needless to say I was making a lot of mistakes across the board. Which leads me to my next point…
Haste makes waste! Don’t fixate on crossing out the list of tasks on your board just so you’re done with them. Stop for awhile and check if you have made any simple mistakes in your task by having a second look through. This is also an opportunity to see if you can go back and make any improvements. If you’re rushing through your tasks, most of the time you’ll miss out small details/errors which could be improved upon, and which in the long run cause more problems and waste more time.
Err and Learn
Don’t let the idea of making mistakes prevent you from taking the very first step, be it speaking out in a meeting or making your first change to a project. In my experience, it’s always better to take that risk and learn from your mistake than wait forever for the “perfect” moment.
Start small: every step matters. Afraid of speaking out in a meeting in front of a lot of people? Start off by speaking up in a smaller group, then slowly ramp up the size and sooner or later you’ll have no issue sharing your thoughts.
In conclusion, don’t be afraid of the unknown unknowns! Communicate properly to tackle the known unknowns and you’ll feel more prepared to face the rest, progressing slowly but surely from a risk-averse starter to a confident member of the team.