Things you should do and not do when interning overseas

Thinking about giving your career a boost by becoming an intern? Here are some things you should do and not do when interning overseas.

If you ever needed proof that internships were beneficial, all you need to do is take a look at the vast number of highly successful people that started off as an intern.

10 famous people who started out as interns

You may be shocked to discover where some of these famous people started out. 

  1. Steven Spielberg – Although we don’t advocate the way Steven Spielberg went about getting an internship program, it was certainly effective. He used to sneak into Universal Studios frequently, even though he wasn’t allowed access. He created a short film and networked with directors. In the end, he was handed a seven-year contract, and you know how the rest of the story goes. 
  2. Tom Hanks – Key internship benefits include boosting confidence and gaining real-life experience, and Tom Hanks is proof of this. He interned for the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Ohio. He gained an abundance of production experience and stage confidence. 
  3. Oprah Winfrey – Oprah Winfrey made history due to her internship, as it led to her becoming the first African-American female news anchor. Clearly, she impressed during her time at WLAC-TV. 
  4. Bill Gates – Bill Gates began life as a Congressional page in Washington D.C. This involved administrative tasks, such as preparing the House chambers for each day’s session and delivering messages. 
  5. Steve Jobs – Jobs met Steve Wozniak during a summer internship at Hewlett-Packard, and the rest is history! They went on to create tech giant Apple. Jobs has always spoken highly of his internship, describing it as being in heaven.
  6. Anderson Cooper – Anderson Cooper was a summer intern at the CIA, which seems a bit odd considering he is a journalist and TV personality today. Nevertheless, in this case, Anderson’s internship pointed out what he didn’t want to do with his life. 
  7. Andrea Jung – Andrea Jung, the CEO of Avon Products, began interning at Bloomingdale’s, which is an American chain of luxury department stores. 
  8. Patrick Ewing – Patrick Ewing, basketball star, interned for Bill Bradley, who was the Senator at the time. 
  9. Kanye West – The self-proclaimed ‘greatest rock star alive’, Kanye West, began his career by interning at Fendi and Louis Vuitton. Considering this, it is not surprising that the rapper has ventured into fashion in recent years, displaying his collections at New York Fashion Week. 
  10. Ryan Seacrest – If you have ever watched American Idol, you will be familiar with Ryan Seacrest. Seacrest is one of the most famous presenters in America, and he began life at an Atlanta radio station, WSTR. 

So there you have it: ten famous people that started as interns, and this merely scratches the surface.

P. Diddy, for example, interned at a record label before setting up his own, Bad Boy Records. One half of the fashionable Olsen twins, Ashley, interned at Zac Posen to learn the ropes. And, Brooke Shields interned at San Diego Zoo – sounds pretty fun! 

Whether you volunteer in Bali, intern in New York, or take any other exciting opportunity, it can be daunting. Here are some things to help you.

Dos of an internship

  • Do set specific goals – It is important to set goals otherwise you will have nothing to strive towards or measure yourself against. If you set goals, you will have an outline of what you are trying to accomplish from your day at your internship. This will help you to extract as much value from your time there as possible. 
  • Do find a mentor – You should have a mentor during your internship; someone you can turn to whenever you have any questions and someone that should be looking out for you and providing you with feedback on what you are doing. If you have not been assigned a mentor, don’t be afraid to ask about the prospect of having one.
  • Do network – It is vital to network during your internship. Nowadays, building up a useful contact book is critical in all industries. You never know when you could need the assistance of someone you have met in the past, or what opportunities they may have for you. 
  • Do act professionally – Getting the basics right is so important. You need to act in a professional manner at all times. You are a representation of the company in question, and so you need to dress smart, be punctual, and be polite at all times.  
  • Do learn new skills – Take this opportunity to learn new skills. A lot of people make the mistake of viewing their internship as a trial job; they simply want to secure a full-time position, and so they think they should already be the finished product. However, an internship is all about learning and developing yourself. You are not expected to come in and be ready for the working world. Nevertheless, this does not make you any less likely to secure a full-time position. If your boss sees potential, there is every chance you will be offered a paid role. 
  • Do keep in touch with co-workers – Once your internship is over, you should make an effort to keep in contact with your co-workers. This shows that you care about the company, and you will also be able to build up strong relationships with the people you worked with, and you never know where this could lead you.   
  • Do bring new ideas to the table – A lot of interns are scared of voicing their opinion or revealing any ideas they have for fear that they will be dismissed. Remember, you were chosen out of numerous people for this role, and so your boss already sees something in you. Your ideas are just as valuable as anyone else’s’ at the company. And, if your idea is rejected, don’t let it get you down; learn from it – that is what your internship is all about.
  • Do find out about the company’s corporate culture – Every business is different, and this is why it is a good idea to enquire about corporate culture during your interview. For example, you can ask what the company values most in their employees or how they define success. 

Don’t of an internship

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions – A lot of interns are afraid to ask questions, as they are worried about being a nuisance to their boss. You shouldn’t feel this way. Of course, you don’t want to bombard people with questions every five minutes, but the whole point of your internship is to learn, and to learn you need to ask questions.
  • Don’t burn bridges – It does not matter how bad your internship may be, you should never burn bridges. You will be much better off coming home with an empty contact book and no connections as opposed to having made enemies. This could come back to haunt you in the future when a potential employer wants references or knows the company you have worked for and hears that you have made a bad impression. 
  • Don’t lose temper – This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make in your professional life. There is no place for temper or ego in the workplace. If you take things personally and lose your cool, there is no way you will turn your internship program into a full-time job. If you feel yourself getting worked up about something, take a few moments to yourself and think calmly. You can always talk about it with a family member or a friend when you get home to let off some steam.
  • Don’t take lunches alone – You shouldn’t take your lunches alone; instead, you should try to sit with your colleagues. It is important to integrate with the team. This shows a willingness to participate and you may end up having fruitful conversations about the company and different opportunities that are available.  
  • Don’t socialize on social media – You need to stay away from Twitter and Facebook during your internship. If you find yourself that bored that you have to browse through your social media accounts, you clearly do not have enough work to do. Instead of chatting to your friends online, ask for another assignment. 
  • Don’t forget to spell check before saving – Nothing looks more unprofessional than submitting a piece of work or sending an email and there being a glaring spelling mistake. It is easy to make errors while you are in the flow of writing, and this is why it is crucial to look over your work again and use spell check before saving. 
  • Don’t dress like an intern – What does this mean? Well, a lot of interns dress as though they are a ‘visitor’ of the company or less important. They will turn up in casual attire, for example. However, it is crucial to have a professional wardrobe if you are to make the right impression. Dress appropriately for the professional atmosphere at the business in question. After your first day, you will be able to assess what everyone else is wearing. But, on your first day, stick with a smart shirt and a pair of trousers, and make sure they are ironed properly. 

If you take note of the dos and don’ts that have been listed in this post, you will have a much better chance of internship success.