Being an intern has its own special set of challenges that may help or hinder your search for a substantive position. You are working in an environment where you have certain responsibilities without really being a member of the team, and although you deliver, the host organisation is neither compensating you nor have they indicated whether they will offer you a substantive job or not.
It is a grey area and it is frustrating. Especially given that you have your own plans and expectations. But there are benefits. While you are an intern, you have the opportunity to learn certain practical lessons about the workplace and develop the organisational skills that will help you make a more positive impact during your probation period when you eventually get a ‘real’ job. In the meantime, it is important that as an intern you are able to manage yourself, particularly on the emotional and social levels.
As mature and accomplished as we think we are when we graduate from our various tertiary institutions, we need to consciously and actively manage how we present ourselves and interact with others around us. You know those manipulation tactics that were effective at school, like sulking and ignoring people, bursting into tears and throwing tantrums when things don’t go our way? In the real working world, you will feel like doing all that and a lot more, but it all reflects negatively on you and the worst part is that there is no second chance to make a good first impression.
Yes we know management do sometimes throw tantrums but they are established in the system and their track record speaks for them. You don’t have a track record yet. Once you’ve blown up, and been branded immature by your colleagues, that’s it. Make the most of your internship by learning what you could not learn in class. Once you feel confident of your growing competencies and eligibility for an entry position in your field, start working on your CV and position yourself for the ‘real’ job.