Making the most out of your internship

5 Feb. 2018

Internships are a great way to experience firsthand how the things you learn in the classroom translate into the real-world.

At EHL, we offer two internship periods annually to allow students in our Bachelor program gain practical knowledge by fully immersing themselves in the hospitality industry.

It is important to realize, however, that the value of your internship is up to you. As with many things in life, when it comes to an internship, what you get out of it will depend on what you put into it.

We've compiled a few tips to help you make the most of your internship. 

Go above and beyond

Average work yields average rewards. During your internship, you will have the opportunity to network with hospitality industry professionals at all levels. Think of an internship as an extended job interview. In a regular interview, you tell a potential employer about your knowledge and skills. Whereas your internship gives you the chance to demonstrate your capabilities.

Interns who simply do what is required are good interns, but there is nothing exceptional about meeting expectations. When you exceed expectations, on the other hand, you make yourself memorable. Even if you are not vying for a job offer from the organization after your internship, the impression you make on your managers and peers might impact your future employment through references. 

Seek out opportunities to do more 

It is no secret that many of the tasks assigned to interns are mundane. You will also find that you occasionally have downtime in between assignments. Use that time to figure out other ways you might be able to contribute. Actively anticipate the company's needs and demonstrate your willingness to be proactive and contribute where ever possible. 

In doing so, you will likely impress your managers. But more importantly, you will expand your the practical knowledge and experiences you gain during your internship. A good intern will do what they've been told needs to be done. An exceptional intern will look around and be able to see what needs to be done. 

Learn from everyone else

If all you learn from an internship is based on your own experiences, you will not have gotten all you can out of it. During your internship, you are surrounded by professionals working in several different facets of the hospitality industry.

Talk to as many of your peers, managers, and supervisors as possible. They have years of experience and most are excited to share what they have learned along their career path. Consider seeking a mentor who is currently working in a position that appeals to you. If they are unable to offer assistance as a mentor, request time to talk with them, ask questions about their role and any advice they might have for you. 

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Take the time to reflect

It can be easy to get so busy working that you forget to think about your internship experience. If you want to really make the most of your internship, you need to ask yourself what you are getting out of it.

After you have finished your internship, you can look back and see your progression and professional development that occurred. But if you take time to reflect during your internship, you will be better poised to gain as much as possible. Asking for feedback from colleagues and managers may help you to reflect on what you are learning as you are learning it. 

Don't disappear after your internship

If you network well throughout your internship, you will gain valuable connections while you are there. But if you don't stay in touch after you leave, the professional relationships you fostered will falter.

At the conclusion of your internship, take the time to write a letter thanking your supervisor and the organization for the opportunities they gave you. Include specific examples of things you have learned or mentors who helped you learn and grow during your experience. You can also ask to connect with peers and managers on LinkedIn to further establish your professional network. 

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