How To Make The Most of Your Internship
An internship is one of the most important phases in a student’s journey towards becoming a member of the automotive or motorsports field. During this period, students will get a chance to see the ‘real world’ of their industry, spending an extended period of time trying their hand at different roles and responsibilities to develop a holistic view of their future careers and help them decide what they might want to specialize in.
Seeing as how this period of time is of great importance, it would be a great idea for the student to walk into it prepared with some kind of a plan to make the most of it. The goal shouldn’t just be to survive the internship, it should also be to thrive and make a name for yourself in an industry that you will someday call your own!
Whether you’re doing your internship in 2019 or any time in the future, here are a few timeless tips that will serve you well during this phase.
Make friends with everyone
For starters, be prepared to flex your social skills. It is important to make friends with everyone you interact with, because you will be able to learn something from everyone that you come across. This is true even if they are people whose roles aren’t directly related to yours.
Even those in supporting roles, such as administrative staff, cleaners, and security staff in any company can be great sources of information and wisdom for you to understand how a company and an industry operate. Interacting with them will give you a chance to see the company and your role from many different perspectives, all while helping you develop an appreciation for the supporting roles in a company.
Overall, keep in mind that the people you meet during your internship could very well be your friends and colleagues in the future when you join the industry full-time.
Act like a sponge
Remember: you are going through an internship to learn, and as mentioned above, you can learn something from just about anyone. To do this, your energy must be focused on observing, listening, absorbing information and generally paying attention to what goes on around you.
This is a great way to observe good behaviours, best practices, bad habits you should avoid, and also to pick up positive influences from people who joined the industry long ago. It’s important not only to learn about habits or behaviours that are considered to be ‘good’, but also note the ones that are bad so you know what sort of behaviours are unacceptable or unhelpful to your work.
Get constructive feedback
The benefit of an internship and working with mentors, which some companies assign to you and call ‘buddies’, is that you’ll be able to get immediate feedback on your work. A good mentor will provide constructive feedback and help you understand the reality of your work, helping you to level-up your skills and knowledge.
You’ll know you’re receiving constructive feedback when it involves equal praise for good work done and constructive criticism for any mistakes or shortcomings. After all, the most effective way for a person to learn is to receive feedback on their work immediately so that they may then apply and internalize the lessons that they have learned from that feedback.
Compare theory and reality
The internship is an activity or period that stands between your life as an automotive or motorsports college student, and the ‘real world’ of the automotive industry. Through this experience, you’ll get a chance to apply all of the lessons and knowledge that you have learned in your theoretical and practical classes in a live environment.
Most importantly, you’ll be able to see for yourself the differences that might exist between what you’ve learned and what’s being practiced in the company that you’re working with. You might find that individual companies have very different ways of doing things that they have decided is more suitable for their operations, and understanding the difference will be a great way to expand your knowledge.
Stay humble and neutral
Above all, do not forget to stay humble and neutral throughout the entire internship experience. Always remember that you are a student who is there to learn, and that any feedback given to you is something for you to reflect on in order to improve your knowledge and skills in the automotive or motorsports industry.
In any matters that take place between the company’s employees, such as arguments or conflicts, always remember to stay neutral. You are there to learn, and getting involved in any manner of office politics will act as an unnecessary distraction from that purpose.
In short, have fun and learn as much as you can during your internship; it’ll bring you one huge step closer to joining the automotive or motorsports industry, just like you’ve always wanted to!