Winter break is quickly coming up, and most of us have one thing on our minds: enjoying the post-finals coma on the couch while eating copious amounts of holiday goodies. While this may sound like an enticing option, this 4-week period is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of a more obscure student experience: externships!
Externships are not the same as internships; they are a shorter experience that can last for a few weeks or even a few days. These opportunities are an easy way to take advantage of your winter holiday and give you a competitive edge when applying for a job.
While doing an externship may seem easy, it’s important that your level of dedication to the position is no different than any other opportunity. Whether you are doing work or strictly observing during your externship, you need to bring your A-game and treat the position as though it’s a real job. Here are a few important things to remember throughout your short time at the company in order to make the most of your experience and leave a lasting impression.
During the Externship
Make a Laundry List of Questions
These types of opportunities are mostly to help you get a look at the career you are looking to work in. For this reason, it’s a good idea to compile a list of questions you have about your future job and get them answered throughout your externship to gain insight.
Set Expectations and Goals
It’s important to be clear with your supervisor about what you are hoping to learn because your time at this company will be brief. However, be sure to set realistic goals. If you are going into a medical externship for 2 weeks, chances are you will not be seeing a patient through a whole recovery cycle, and you may be handling much smaller tasks than interns in longer-term roles. Remember that this is still an opportunity to observe a lot and gain respect by doing what is asked of you, no matter how important or large the task is.
Talk to Everyone
Since you will be working in a company for a short time and you are a new face, be prepared to answer questions about what you want to do and why you chose to work for that company in particular. You may be able to gain insight from individuals who are currently in that position and can offer you some tips on future jobs or graduate school. Do not be afraid to approach people to ask them about their experiences or if they have any advice for you. Build great connections you can use later on.
Ask for Feedback
While being evaluated by your peers can often be nerve-wracking, it’s a great opportunity to learn what your supervisors and coworkers think of your work ethic. They can offer great feedback that you can improve upon so that you can excel in your next internship.
Keep in touch with your supervisors and any other people you met during your time. These can be great contacts in the future if you are looking for a letter of recommendation, need them to pass along your resume or have any follow-up questions about applying and interviewing for jobs in the future. Depending on which field you go into, the connections you have can be the deciding factor in getting hired or not.
Instead of binging on holiday food and Netflix this winter, consider doing something productive with your time that will help you get closer to the career of your dreams. Who knows, an externship could even land you a job, and you can’t say the same for Netflix.