Musings from Bahraini entrepreneur, design agency creative director and magazine editor, Wafa Alobaidat
This generation has inherited toxic assets, seen bailouts, bankruptcies and major economic slowdowns. We have fresh graduates with outstanding qualifications that aren’t given the chances they deserve. If you don't have a permanent job, you’re either a temp or an intern. Now, more than ever, you need to get your foot in the door and prove yourself in the work space, and carve room in the company you want to work with.
I’ve been observing an intern of ours at the agency for quite some time. Never in my life have I encountered an intern with such striking qualities. I wouldn't consider her an intern; she's proved herself more worthy than a temporary title.
It’s summer now, graduates and high school students alike are arranging their summer trips around the world, many are sending off their CVs to companies they believe will provide them with experience and that competitive edge in their careers. Reality is, it’s not what experience you can gain as an intern, it’s what your employers can gain from you. First step for becoming a super intern is by realizing this.
My super intern and I met ages ago when she emailed me about an internship. Straight off she was relaxed, confident, and spoke articulately about what I did, what she liked and disliked. She was honest and did her homework.
Summer came and she joined my team at our office in Bahrain, a day after she landed from the UK. That alone spoke volumes. She began exceeding my expectations and we soon came to trust her with more responsibility and she has since earned the nickname ‘Super Intern.’
During her time with us, I compiled a mental list of what she has done differently from other interns who worked with our team. This can be used as a checklist for any and all who are about to embark on an internship or thinking of applying for one in the future:
- Be punctual – it reflects your level of seriousness. Super Intern arrives at 9am sharp every day, was late only once in two months and stays till most of our employees are long gone and usually right before I leave.
- Knowledge is key, do your homework. Super Intern follows Obai & Hill on Twitter, has gone through our website, our clients, and knows who our key clients are. Straight off the bat, I could converse with her about marketing and sales strategies, and I could treat her as an equal instead of a newcomer.
- Show them you’re an asset not a liability. Super Intern never weighs me down, doesn’t ask too many questions. She gets the project, the brief or the task done with minimal effort and right the first time.
- Do the work and more. Super Intern does more than what’s expected from her. She takes on more than she can handle, saying yes to everything, and sometimes even butting into other conversations to offer help. ‘I can do that,’ ‘You can have that by tomorrow,’ or ‘Let me do it’ are key phrases Super Intern uses. She doesn’t seem too eager or too upset about it, she just offers and gets it done.
- Show you’re capable of responsibility and ask for it. The more Super Intern does, the more we trust her to do more, and she takes it all with stride.
- Do what you have to do, not what you want to do. Super Intern does what is needed in the office, whether it is admin, or proposals or proof reading. It is all about the company, not about doing what she wants to do. Sometimes you land an internship where you don’t end up doing what you studied; you just have to know it is not about you, it is about the work.
- Work like an employee not an intern. Don't act like this is a temporary job. After all, many employees were once interns themselves. You might impress them so much that you end up getting hired!
- Bring goodies. Super Intern bakes and brings organic tea bags to the office. She remembers everyone’s birthday and takes the initiative to be nice and social.
This article is dedicated to my Super Intern, Nada!
I hope this helps all you future interns and employees land the jobs you dream of having.
Wafa Alobaidat writes a bi-monthly column for Khaleejesque and muses on fashion, art, culture and culture shock in the Middle East. Wafa is also the editor of Sketchbook magazine and runs design and PR agency Obai and Hill.