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Eight Lessons Learned From Internships Internships can be a great resource for relevant work experience, as well as a time to absorb life-long lessons.

By Pamella de Leon

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


Being a recent grad, I've come to learn that in the job-hunting world, they won't look at your resume if you don't have some sort of relevant work experience. Internships are a great resource for that, but that's not the only thing you should be taking with you from your student work stint. Whether you were doing coffee runs or pitching stories, it's important to absorb lessons that will help you land and succeed at that future job. Here are eight things that I've learnt from my past internships that helped me land my job at Entrepreneur Middle East.

1. Punctuality in all aspects
Whether it's arriving early in the morning or getting a task done on time, punctuality is essential. Manage your time well to get things done. It shows that you're dedicated to your work, and that you're capable of responsibility and professionalism.

2. Be the eager beaver intern
Show your enthusiasm by absorbing everything like a sponge, from corporate culture to knowing the nitty-gritty processes involved in company deliverables. Take initiative and even if you're unsuccessful, you will still learn how you can improve upon your work. Another benefit of a rejected idea? You're still showing that you have guts and the "trep spirit. Be resourceful in handling projects- better yet, take on the projects that no one else wants to do and show off your capabilities. Be more than the job description and it will get noticed by your higher-ups.

3. Adopt new skills
Chances are interns are either underpaid or completely unpaid. Build skills that you think will be useful in your industry, and consider that capitalizing on your work. Utilize the skills in part-time jobs or freelance projects in tandem with your work placement. When I was interning, I covered events as a videographer- it was a good networking opportunity. If I had extra time, I would also write articles about the events as portfolio samples. Later on, I decided to help out budding art initiatives with their marketing by providing video teasers. These vids helped me gain other opportunities, and now, especially as I work at a company that is very digi-centric, I'm more aware of the advantages of online video both for my resume and as a marketing tool. It's not about being a jack-of-all-trades but instead using your skills to strengthen your forte.

4. Researching your targets
Source out potential employment- track people and companies that you want to work for. In my case, I read the publications I wanted to work for and I also suggest following the writers you admire. Follow the company on LinkedIn to keep apprised of vacancies and read all of their social media platforms to get a better feel of their office culture. Engage with them on social media so that you're on their radar, and they see that you have an interest in the company's news. Look for their contact information then swallow your shyness and send that email- or better yet, cold call.

5. Cultivate a strong social media presence
Keep a blog with your portfolio so companies can both Google your work and so that they can ascertain that you have the highly-coveted skills required to maintain a relevant online presence. Have a public account where your voice and views about topics in your industry can be seen. Also, keep in mind that once you publish something online, it never goes away- so think before you share.

6. Connect with people at your career-level
We always hear how it's important to have experienced industry leaders to look up to, but it's also essential to practice horizontal loyalty and develop relationships with people who are at the same career level, no matter which industry they're in. Collaborate on projects together and provide feedback on each other's recent work. Another great trick? Link build to one another- as they grow, so do you.

7. Find out what makes good things tick
If you want to be a writer, read good articles by established journalists twice and ask yourself, "Why is this so good?" Pick it apart and notice the elements that make it great so that you can emulate that essence. If you're looking for a PR or marketing position, evaluate strong press releases, advertisements, CSR movements, and even events that are impactful. Learn by osmosis and then apply it to your work.

8. Do your own thing
If all else fails and you can't find an opportunity that you're ecstatic about, think about starting your own. Compared to other regions, the Middle East is still a relatively fresh market. Propel the entrepreneur inside of you and seek an untouched niche that can be addressed. Look at the work that Syed Ahmed and Iba Masood are doing with Gradberry. They noticed that there was no platform for university students and young grads to job search, so they started their own. Now, they're expanding to offering online courses for users to beef up their CVs. Make awesome stuff now and carve out your own future.

Sticking your neck out and trying new things isn't easy. There are rejections on the way to landing that great job, but with stubbornness and dedication you'll get there. Whether a good or bad experience, learn all the lessons you can from the outcome and the process. It worked for me!

Pamella de Leon

Startup Section Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Pamella de Leon is the Startup Section Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East. She is keen on the MENA region’s entrepreneurship potential, with a specific interest to support enterprises and individuals creating an impact.

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