Maintaining your hungry, even when you’re bored
Internships can be boring at times and made worse by the fact that you won’t get a dime for what you do there. Sadly, many students only use this opportunity to “pass time”, full-fill the University requirement, and get a degree before they can do the “real job”.
In reality, an internship is meant to teach you skills, expand your horizons, and let you explore professional life in the real world. Students and organizations are both guilty for not making the most out of the internship program. Employers should be able to trust an internee more and make use of their time in the organization by delegating more tasks and letting the internee immerse in to the company culture instead of restricting their work to the “baby stuff”.
Internees could also take advantage of this opportunity by trying to achieve as much as they can. They could go beyond their comfort zone and exceed expectations, build useful networks, learn as much as they can about the industry, how work is done, and more. Not only will this attitude keep an internee motivated, but also highlight him enough to make people think he deserves a fabulous job – within or outside the organization.
Just like Steve Martin said, it pays to:
“Be so good that they can’t ignore you.”
Here are a few ways internees can keep themselves motivated and keep themselves going strong till it’s over.
1. Make Clear Goals
Do you have any idea what you need to be learning or doing during your internship? No? Well, maybe that’s exactly why you fail to keep yourself going.
It’s not only your fault. The hiring organization, department in charge, or the mentor should have done a better job while planning and organizing the internship program. Nevertheless, you could set clear goals for yourself before you begin. Make a list of the things you know you HAVE to achieve during your 4-8 week internship program. The clearer the goals are the better. For example, “I want to learn how at least X number of departments operate fully” “I want to learn how their information system works” “I want to build at least one meaningful relationship with an employee in each department”.
It shouldn’t hurt to go up to the supervisor and ask for more work. If there is something you see that isn’t being done, or a place where an employee could “do with some extra help”, go ahead and ask. Try to pick the places and the tasks you are most interested in.
One other way to stay motivated at work is by being social. Meet new people, have a little chat, tell them what you know and ask them about their own expertise and experiences. You would be surprised at how many “senior colleagues” are willing to befriend you and teach you a thing or two. In fact, they are always willing to give free advice, tips at work, and sometimes – they just want somebody to share their life stories with.
This technique will serve three purposes: you will get to learn a lot from existing employees, you will build networks (for future purpose), and you will remain preoccupied and engaged.
3. Keep a Diary
It is always useful to keep a diary with you during an internship. Although, this certainly isn’t necessary in a regular, full-time day job. During an internship, a diary will allow you to record what you learned and aid you in making a self-assessment report at the end of the program.
Logging what you learned in a day will also allow you to visualize your progress with time. If it seems that you were learning a lot more in the first few days of your internship and the notes are gradually reducing, it is a clear sign that you are losing motivation and forgetting the intent and purpose of the program.
4. Bring a Buddy
Some organizations will keep you hooked onto a pack load of crazy work, and some others simply won’t trust you with anything and go about doing their own daily duties while you bat flies with a magazine. Many students are stuck with a low-yielding, “boring” internship program or organization. Despite their attempts to make it interesting, they might still find themselves trapped.
If you feel that this could be your case, it might be a good idea to bring a friend or two with you. Group internships are common and a great way for internees to avoid boredom or burn-out during internship work. You won’t always find people your age at the workplace which could be quite intimidating and de-motivating.
Share your “boring experience” with a friend, which will introduce competition, fun, and companionship. Someday, you will be reminiscing with your friend about the crazy, “lame” shared experience at the internship program — and the shared memories will definitely be worth your time.