5 internship tips you might not have thought about

So you’re about to begin your internship.

If you are hardworking, personable and open-minded, you will be sure to walk away with valuable industry knowledge and perhaps even a job.

But what many interns don’t consider is that internships are also a brilliant opportunity to develop leadership skills. And if there’s one thing that’s attractive to employers, it’s someone with the potential to be a great leader.

So here are our five top tips for developing leadership skills on an internship.

1. Observe

When you are trying to make an impression and have been set a series of tasks, it’s easy to get tunnel vision. But make sure you also take time to observe what is going on around you. How do people communicate? How do people interact? Who do people go to, to get things done?

You might even realize that there is more than one way to make an impression.

2. Attend meetings

Attend as many meetings as you can – internally and externally. This will give you a better understanding of how people drive an organization. Pay attention to what people say and don’t say. Take note of how they approach different subjects. Is the meeting completely functional or is there time spent maintaining a relationship? Think about why.

3. Understand power structures

Understanding where power lies in a system is an important job of any leader. Use your internship as an opportunity to really think about structures of power. Who holds the power in the organization? How do people work within that system to deliver outcomes?  How does it differ from other organizations you have experienced?

4. Understand culture

Culture can differ between sectors, organizations and even teams. Good leaders have the Cultural Intelligence to cross cultures and work with people who think and act differently. Make sure you don’t finish your internship without really understanding the organizational culture. What drives the people here? What behaviours are encouraged? Is there a disconnect between a company’s culture and its brand values? If so, why?

Just remember it can be a delicate issue to talk about culture with people you don’t know very well. Tread carefully.

5. Develop networks

A leader is only as strong as their networks. Take the time to build relationships with people across the organization, not just your immediate team. Make the effort to interact with people at different levels and people with different specialisms. In many cases, a strong network may turn out to be the most valuable thing you develop on your internship.