(Click here for the last part of this series, “Knowing when you are in a great internship”)
Answer: Observe and take initiative!
Students need to be the ones to decide how they want to spend their time during a high school internship program. Not only should they actively do something but they should also learn by listening more. Students also learn by watching the examples set by their supervisors and those who are actively working around them.
Tricia Oliveira of UC San Diego says, “observe everything that goes on around you…pay attention to things like processes and procedures, as well as how people interact with each other to get things done so that you can follow suit.”
A high school internship program is all in the experience. Students will benefit from active observation because they have the advantage of being on “the outside looking in”. They can study a group of people firsthand, learning about their unique work culture as well as pick up on verbal conversations, body language and other unspoken dialogue. The private school internship gives students a better sense of a work-related atmosphere as they are able to observe how people interact and “flow” together. This kind of experience will prove invaluable for students when they think about the kinds of work settings better suited for them.
In regards to doing more, Tricia also added the following:
“Take initiative: introduce yourself to people, ask questions, and request opportunities to get involved with tasks or projects that interest you, or that you think would contribute something of value to the organization. Interns who just sit around waiting for exciting projects to fall in their lap usually wait a long time. A positive attitude and eagerness to learn go a long way, and it goes without saying that you must be dependable – show up on time, and follow through on projects.”
As can be gathered, students need to be actively involved in an internship program if they want to see results. From meeting and observing fellow colleagues, finding interesting work to do as well as asking for advice, students become more independent decision-makers and mature individuals as well.
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