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What to expect during your first internship

Internships in India - ArchanaWhen you finally decide to give up your sweet sleep and those beautiful blissful days of doing absolutely nothing and take up an internship during your summer break, here’s all you will need to know.

In today’s times, when there is tough competition to get to the top from a young age, you’ve got to pull up your socks and do what you have to, to achieve your career goals.

When your competition has a 9.8 CGPA and a perfect resume, you should know that it’s time to up your game. Your recruiters and employers are not just looking for a perfect GPA.

So what you’re lacking academically, internships are a great way to make up for, practically.

Although they are very useful and are always a great component on your resume, not a lot of students know exactly what to expect when they apply for an internship. No, it’s not always fun and as much as you want to, you might not feel as professional as you expected to. So here is a detailed analysis on internships.

1. Expect gerbil-work.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. You are possibly at a lower position during the internship and you will be given work like data entries, taking photocopies, etc. but all of it is part of the process. You have to let your boss take time to be able to trust you with the company’s data, important jobs and making presentations.

The beginning of my first internship was like a nightmare. My boss made me do the silliest of things like crop screenshots of articles and fill in random numbers into an excel database. It really made me regret taking up the internship but she later told me that she did that only to check the speed at which I do things and after that, I was given real, proper responsibilities and I was able to handle it all quite well because the previous things my boss made me do, made her gain her trust in me and she was able to connect better with me”, said Shruti Surendran who interned in the field of marketing.


2. Expect to be treated equal. To the chaiwalla.

Yes, you are going to have to do everything your boss says. From bringing them coffee to staying late past office hours on a Saturday to being called in to work on a holiday. You are going to have to do all of that work without a word of complaint.

As an intern, the office is going to look down upon you for your lack of experience, incapability of doing work of their “standard” and that should not affect you.

Your job is to get the work done and prove yourself to the point that your boss promotes you from chaiwalla to least-liked-employee. You’ll get to their favourites soon enough. So much so, they will need a replacement for you at the end of your internship.


3. Expect to be active.

The internship is for you and the company is not just benefitting with an extra helping hand but it is also doing you a favour by offering you the opportunity so it is your duty to stand up and demand work. There might be occasions when one is not given any work at all but just made to sit in the office for long hours.

First three days of my internship, I was given absolutely no work to do. I sat in the office aimlessly, doing nothing. All the employees in the office were too busy to bother about the interns. Finally, I stepped up and asked my boss if she could assign some work to me and subsequently, I got a lot of responsibilities in the office. Next thing I know, I don’t even have time for lunch”, said Pooja Kayarat who interned in the field of computer science.

The internship’s focus is the learning process, to pick up on things and to get exposure in the industry you want to work in.

If you do not show your fellow employees and boss that you are keen to learn and have a proactive attitude, the purpose of the internship is lost. It is not their duty to give you a good learning experience. You must do that for yourself.

4. Expect compensation.

To learn is most important”- throw that thought away. To earn is equally important.

A lot of companies hire interns and bid them farewell with the gift of knowledge. One must realize that they have spent hours out of their lives to work for the organization; time and money to travel to the place of work and the company must reward them in some form.

Be it stipend, prerequisite accommodation, travel requirements, etc. This does not apply to start-up companies, as most of their work staff is comprised of unpaid interns due to financial issues. Although, they can be rewarded in other ways as well, for example, with recommendations.


5. Expect to meet people and be sociable.

Most of the time, the interns are the youngest in the office and with all the work the employees have, they are usually not keen on associating or interacting with the new confused kid with a lot of questions.

So, you must be the one to approach them, not only to make friends, but also to learn more about the company you are working for. You might even pick up some tips on work from them, or even new excuses to get out of work!


6. Expect office politics.

Office politics and drama are daily happenings in any official setting. Your job is to steer clear of anything that even smells like drama. What happens between the bosses and the employees is not of your concern.

Internships are for learning and enjoying. Getting involved in issues with your fellow employees or your boss is not going to make the internship any easier or any more enjoyable for you.


7. Expect a LOT of new things to learn.

If you are doing an internship for the first time, you will discover so many things and learn so much about professionalism, perfection and responsibility; it is quite over-whelming.

Throughout your internship, you will not only come across huge databases of companies, presentations, and accounts, but you will also learn to apply precision in your work, to make presentations, what the company aims for and how it is achieved, etc.

Of course, most importantly, you will learn about new tools on power point, which you never even knew existed.


8. Expect to fall short.

You are an amateur, still learning the ways of the industry. You are bound to fall short of what is expected of you and that is absolutely acceptable. To work is part of your internship but that is not the aim; the aim is to learn.

You learn when you make mistakes; so don’t be afraid of doing something just to avoid getting embarrassed for doing it wrong. Everything you do, do it with confidence. Whether it is right or wrong wouldn’t matter, as you would have a learning experience from both.

During my internship, my boss gave me meticulous instructions on how to organize her presentation. I heard it word-to-word and applied it in the presentation. When she saw it, she was so disappointed that she sent me back early, as if she didn’t want any more stuff going wrong. The next day, I had a whole new energy of proving myself and I worked till late and did everything correctly and she was very impressed with me. It’s all about making mistakes to get better than you are. Only then will you learn”, said Niels Jadoenathmisier who interned in the field of marketing.

9. Expect not to be involved in the major projects.

Most of the times, major projects run for half a year to a year so it does not make sense to let interns in on these projects.

Due to this, you will not be part of most client meetings and major decisions being made but that is not because you are an intern but because it is not possible for the office to let every single intern know about the major projects every time a new intern joins.

There must be consistency and for that reason, interns are assigned the smaller projects.


Keeping all these in mind, expect to have fun. Internships are a lot of things – stressful, disheartening, demotivating – but most importantly, they are enjoyable.

You are going to do it for a short period of time so you might as well make mistakes, learn and cherish your time as a professional office-goer before you’re back to your college days!

Watch this video to learn how you can become an entrepreneur at a young age

Archana Kayarat
About Archana Kayarat
Archana is currently a 2nd year communication student in Manipal who enjoys the occasional euphoria of extreme adventure sports, attains nirvana getting lost in books, has a fur-raising obsession with animals and aspires to be the cat lady when she grows up.

14 thoughts on “What to expect during your first internship”

  1. Hi Archana,

    It was a great pleasure to go through your article and Iam glad to note that in short time you have realised the ground realities of career and taken things positively and constructively to reach greater heights in career. Good article and also a guiding message for all the new entrants to take up a career immediately after a long happy college days.

    Good Job!!

    Warm Regards And Best Wishes,

    Pandompadam Sudhir

  2. Great Article Archana.Impressed with the way you have picked up the office atmosphere and I am sure this can be a real help to many aspiring Youngsters stepping out of college.Wish you all the success in your career & life


  3. Thank you so much for this article.I thought I was having the worst time of my life at my current internship.It was getting pretty disheartening.Feels good to know its usual.

    • It happens, but I have had internships which have been a great learning experience as well. Some which I enjoyed more than my work now even! It depends on so many things- the organisation, the supervisor assigned to you, the clients, etc. One thing I’ve learned is that your attitude matters too. If you’re enthusiastic to learn and the organisation recognised that and sees your potential, you’ll have a great time 🙂


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