Good practice for interns

While it is vital that an organisation does its bit to make sure an internship is a worthwhile one, ultimately it is your responsibility as an intern to make sure you get the most out of the opportunities that are offered you.

Be prepared. You wouldn’t show up to a new job without doing some research about the organisation you’re going to be working for, and the same rule applies to internships. Coming armed to the internship with some knowledge about the history of the organisation, its mission and its current projects will help to show your interest and enthusiasm for what they do. The organisation’s website is an obvious place to start, and searching on newspaper websites such as The Guardian or The Independent can also be fruitful.

Be independent. Try not to default to asking your supervisor for help every time you encounter something you don’t immediately know the answer to. Often, the solution will come to you if you take a little time to reflect. Of course, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions when you really need to; your colleagues will understand that you’re not as experienced and will require guidance sometimes. However, it is worth remembering that staff are often over-stretched in arts organisations and showing a little initiative will be appreciated.

Be friendly. Unsurprisingly, people like to have colleagues who are nice to be around! If you’re stressed in other areas of your life, try not to bring this into the workplace – remember to always act professionally. Internships are a great networking opportunity; introduce yourself to people and ask them about what they do (generally, you’ll find people quite like talking about themselves). You may or may not have a formally designated ‘mentor’ as part of the internship; either way, it doesn’t hurt to nurture other mentoring-type relationships with colleagues who seem willing to help.

Be hard-working. Complete all the work you’ve been given to the best of your abilities, and check everything meticulously before passing it on. Always arrive at work on time, don’t come back late at lunch time, and don’t rush out of the door at five o’clock. Never act like a task you’ve been given is tedious or worthless. It might be hard to get enthused about what you consider to be a boring administrative task, but most arts roles require this kind of work to some degree; show that you can pitch in and not complain.

Be an asset. If possible, see if you can pro-actively identify work that would benefit the organisation. Is there a useful research project you could undertake? Perhaps there’s a system that could be made more efficient? If your workload isn’t as full as you’d like it to be, offer your assistance to members of the team – particularly if you observe someone in need of an extra pair of hands.  Always try to be doing something productive. If you have spare time, talk to your supervisor about taking on extra work. Don’t be tempted to kill time pointlessly browsing the web – not a great impression to make!

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