How Can You Mess Up Your Internship Experience?

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What if you go on exchange for over a year just to learn that…you haven’t actually learned anything?

Uh-oh, if this doesn’t sound like a wasted opportunity, then we don’t know what does.

But what can possibly mess up your internship experience so badly that you end up wasting the opportunity?

No worries, we got you covered. Keep on reading to find out what you could do to mess up your exchange…and avoid doing these, of course. 

1. Not showing up

Nothing declines your level of satisfaction in your exchange more than not showing up. What we mean by that is the following:

Showing up comes in various forms. Showing up at work – even if you have the possibility to work from home, it is advised to visit the office from time to time. People will remember you more when you show up. It will send the message to your colleagues that you are dedicated to the work, and of course, you can create better connections with your work buddies.

Be also aware of making your presents be seen in other mediums as well. For instance in the chats you have with your colleagues on the internal platform, the comments you leave on their LinkedIn profiles, and turning on your camera during calls.

Showing up also means to participate in gatherings. Be it the gatherings you have at work organized, or the ones done by AIESEC. Even if the participants in the AIESEC gatherings won’t be your colleagues, you do want to learn more about their experience and the company or division they are working in. 

2. Not caring 

The next thing you can do to mess up your internship is to not care for the possibilities your new environment can offer you.

In other words, not exploring the city you are having your exchange in. Not traveling through the country when you have the means, not learning the language, or even trying out the local cuisine.

Not caring for the culture that surrounds you is a bulletproof way to spoil your experience as it holds some of the deepest lessons one can get from their exchange, and an excellent way to develop yourself as a human. 

3. Not connecting

Hand in hand with the previous point goes the lack of connection you are building with the people around you.

The people in your exchange experience can either make or break your experience big time. It’s with the people you are with that will help you create long-lasting memories.

And it’s the people that will help you out to find your way in the new found home for the next couple of months. 

4. Not tracking

When you are on an international internship exchange like Global Talent, you will have more than enough tasks and projects to work on. By the end of your exchange your resume will be ready to receive an upgrade with all the skills and achievements acquired.

But…chances are, you might only be able to add around 10% of the total achievements you’ve done. Why so? Because another way you can mess up your exchange is by not tracking your work.

A good practice is to have a tool that will help you keep track of all your tasks and projects you had during your internship. This tool later on will provide you with a better overview of your main take-aways from your internship role. It will also offer a great archive of stories to use during your next job interviews.

If you don’t know where to start, you can check out an example here. 

5. Not reflecting 

And the worst thing you can do regarding your experience, is to not reflect.

With lacking reflection, whatever lessons you might have gotten, will not be learned. You are also missing the opportunity to evaluate your work, behaviors and overall interactions with your peers. 

Which is why, with an AIESEC internship, reflection practices are embedded into your internship program. You get the chance to reflect on your goals before your exchange, during, and after your internship. Because we really do not want you messing up your internship 🙂.

Bottom line

The traps for you to mess up your internship experience are everywhere!

I call myself guilty of some of the points mentioned above. Therefore, it is important to sit down and plan your experience, talk with people who have gone through a similar journey, document yourself about the country and workplace.

As the quote goes: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” – Benjamin Franklin.

With this being said, don’t forget then to:

– show up

– care 

– connect 

– track 

– reflect. 


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