Internships 101

3 Common Internship Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

From learning new skills to getting a hands-on feel for a particular job, internships have a lot to offer college students. If you’re considering an internship, you might be wondering what you can do to set yourself up for success. And, more importantly, is there anything you should avoid doing during your internship? The answer is yes, especially when it making common mistakes.

Here are the top three internship mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.

1. Not managing time well

One of the most common mistakes interns make is managing their time badly. Just as it’s sometimes difficult to juggle assignments for multiple classes, it can also be challenging to juggle the tasks associated with your internship, particularly if it’s a cross-functional role where you’re reporting to several different people.

How to avoid it: The best way to prevent this mistake and manage your time effectively is by getting a handle on your tasks right from the start. Talk to your manager about what will be expected of you in the role and create a list of goals and priorities that everyone can agree on. Once you’ve created that list, focus on your most important tasks first and try to take care of your easier, less important tasks at the end of the day. Project management tools like Asana or Trello can also come in quite handy, letting you track your tasks and progress throughout the week.

2. Complaining about trivial tasks

Another common mistakes many interns make is to underestimate the importance of trivial tasks. These can include research, data entry or filing and although they might not seem that important, they are actually a crucial part of running a business.

How to avoid it:  The first step in avoiding this mistake is realizing that everyone at the company (including your manager) has to do their fair share of grunt work. Once you have that understanding, it’s important to demonstrate your commitment to the job by showing that you’re a professional and a team player. Take pride in the tasks you perform — whether they involve filing or drafting emails — and be confident about the fact that you’re adding value to company.

3. Not asking for feedback

One of the keys to being successful in any role is asking for feedback on your performance and identifying ways that you can improve. Unfortunately, a lot of interns overlook this step, expecting managers to deliver feedback only if something critical comes up.

How to avoid it: Instead of waiting for your manager to bring up the subject of feedback, take the first step and ask them to weigh in some of the tasks you’re working on. For example, if you’re a marketing intern and you’ve been tasked with doing market research, you can show them the results of your initial research and say something like, “Am I taking the right approach with this?” This is a great way to show your manager that you value their feedback and that you’re committed to doing a great job.

Although on-the-job mistakes are often hard to avoid, you can definitely spare yourself from some of the most common ones by knowing what to expect and coming prepared.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Become a Software Developer and find answers to common interview questions such as What Motivates You?