7 things you'll learn from doing an internship

At UOW, we focus on teaching not just specialist knowledge, but also the skills needed to embrace change and solve tomorrow's challenges. That's why practical experience, like an internship, is incorporated into every degree. UOW student Shahira Mohseni explains the top seven things you'll learn from doing an internship.

During my degree I chose two elective subjects, one of which was International Workplace Practice. This subject (one of many Work Integrated Learning subjects available to all UOW students) aims to develop job searching skills, career goals, interview skills, professional skills and much more. On top of all these benefits, this subject also offers a post-session internship, where students can apply all the knowledge and skills they have gained at uni in to the practical world of work.
I applied for a marketing internship at Zig Zag Hub, which offers co-working spaces for young entrepreneurs in the Wollongong CBD. I knew this would be an excellent opportunity for me to meet different entrepreneurs in the co-working hub, learn about their businesses, observe how different businesses operate and expand my knowledge and network.
So, here's a list of the top seven things I learned from doing an internship.

1. How to put my knowledge and skills into practice

From conducting comprehensive competitor analysis research, to designing a marketing and communication plan, my knowledge of business and marketing theories was transformed into a series of practical techniques and skills that I can now implement in real-life business scenarios, all thanks to my internship.

2. The benefits of networking

During my internship, I learned how to communicate and build relationships with the people I worked with. I learned how to introduce myself, talk about my interests, knowledge and skills with entrepreneurs and business owners, as well as how to ask questions and gain a better understanding of businesses not only in the co-working space, but also others in the market. This process overall helped me develop my professional network and emphasised the importance of creating these connections. I also connected with most of them via LinkedIn, which is obviously a great networking platform for professionals.

3. Understanding workplace culture

Culture influences communication, and as an international student, I learned that every company or organisation has its own culture. It’s essential to observe others and learn how they engage and interact with co-workers, or help them with projects and tasks. I quickly learned that whenever something is unclear for me, or I don’t understand, it’s fine to ask for clarification.

4. Enthusiasm is invaluable

As an intern, I discovered it’s essential to be enthusiastic and open to learning new skills, asking for more work and being curious to learn and ask questions. This attitude will show that you enjoy being part of the team and that you're keen to help. Having curiosity and enthusiasm also means that, as an intern, you get a lot out of what you’re doing, which opens lots of opportunities.

5. Keeping a journal is great for personal growth

During my internship, I had a journal and took notes every day about new things I learned, feedback I was given by my manager, strengths and weaknesses I noticed, and things I wanted to research and learn more about. This helped me understand myself more and identify the areas that I needed to improve in.

6. How important good communication is

Communication is the key to success in a professional environment. I learned that it’s important to communicate with my manager via phone, email or SMS if I have questions or if I don’t know how to work on a task. Asking for help and clarification is better than pretending you’ve understood what you need to do, no matter what. However, I also found that if you can Google something, then do. Avoiding asking questions if you can find answers elsewhere is part of being a good communicator – keep in mind that everyone’s time is valuable. As an intern, good communication will help with productivity, efficiency, engagement and growth.

7. The benefits of taking on feedback

Asking for and receiving professional feedback is very important. It is essential to take note of both the positive and negative points for the future, so you can grow and excel in your career. I learned that sometimes asking for feedback or receiving feedback is difficult to hear, but it will have a significant impact on your future career and success.

I am really grateful to have had the opportunity to do an internship and have received so much value from what I learned.

All story credit goes to Shahira Mohseni.

For more future students stories, check out The Stand.