5 Tips to Make the Best Out of Your Internship

Why Internships are Useful

Did you take up an internship during this summer holiday? An internship is a great way to gain knowledge, skills and hands-on experience in the relevant field, allowing us to understand the company and the industry better. Obtaining a meaningful internship will give you an upper hand when you first enter the workforce. Generally, employers will favour fresh graduates who have done more than one relevant internship because they are more familiar with the industry trends, best practices and workflow. So don’t underestimate the importance of internships, as the experience gained will give you a competitive advantage over other candidates applying for the same role!

What I Learnt From My Internship

As Digital Marketing and Recruitment interns at Citadel Search, we learned the process of sourcing for the best fit candidate — using our unique 7-Step Methodology. Through it, we mastered the skills of conducting Competency Based Interviews and possessed the skills required to source the right gems. Another nugget of information we took away was understanding the compensation and salary pay scales for the various industries and roles. For social media content, we experimented with different types of content and analysed the engagement rates. An exciting social media project we took on was to conduct a live interview with Christine Tiyu on her thoughts on career breaks and contract jobs. 

By generating content and writing blogs on our website, we managed to dwell deeper and gained new perspectives on ageism, non-discrimination, fair employment practices and HR trends. We challenged traditional thinking for these issues not openly shared in Singapore, exchanging opinions with our colleagues and social media followers from all walks of life. This experience gave us a great peek into what the headhunting industry is like and exposure to marketing beyond textbooks.

Why were we attracted to Citadel Search? It all started from the interview session. Our managing director and senior consultant really got to know us beyond our resumes and were very open about telling us how we could improve after our job interview. During the interview, we could feel that they were genuinely interested in finding out more about us, and it was a two-way conversation where we could find out more about the company and its culture. That won us over. We are really grateful for the opportunity offered to us to embark on this eye-opening journey, where we obtained insights into the world of HR. If you are interested in embarking on this internship with Citadel Search, sign up here.

As it comes to the end of our internship, here are some personal tips developed from our own experiences to make the best out of an internship!

5 Internship Tips For Success

1. Set clear goals before starting your internship

Our hiring manager asked, “What do you want to achieve out of this internship?” during our interview, and we had plenty to say. However, during the midst of the internship where we were overwhelmed with things to learn and do, we lost track of what we wanted to achieve initially. Luckily, we got back on track after having an open and meaningful conversation with our Managing Director. We realised the importance of knowing the “Why” behind our actions. Moving forward, that’s what drives us every day in our work! It’s so satisfying to pen down what we set out to do and achieve them.

We felt that what you could do, and unfortunately missed out by us, is to have the discipline to set aside time periodically and do self-reflection. Analyse and understand what you have done well, areas for improvement. Then, deriving clear actions and goals to work on the feedback given by seniors. Remember to ask yourself what do you like about this role, is this a role you envision the future you to be in? Why or why not? This will definitely help maximise your learnings during the internship!

2. Learn by observation and ask questions

Another tip is to learn by listening and watching what your colleagues are doing to get a better sense of how the real work is done. Nothing beats watching the experts! For instance, when our colleagues were doing phone qualifications with other candidates, we would listen to how they forged good relationships and empathised with what the candidates said. When appropriate, we would take the initiative to ask if we can sit in for competency-based interviews conducted by our Managing Director and seniors. This helped us to be more fluent and confident when we communicate with candidates independently.

Next, it is essential to clear doubts when you are unsure. Don’t be afraid to ask! It shows that you are willing and keen to learn. Asking questions is also an effective way to communicate better and forge relationships with others. During lunch breaks, we would usually take the opportunity during lunch break to interact with our colleagues and ask them about their job experience and thoughts about working in this industry.

3. Ask for feedback and improve on your flaws

We all know that getting feedback is the way to learn and grow. Yet, we often forget to seek it actively and rather, passively receive it. Instead of waiting till the end of our internship, we asked for feedback during the midst of our internship. This allows us to know whether we are on the right track whilst there is time to make changes and improve.

Often, it can be rather disheartening to get negative feedback from your employers. Worse still, if your flaws are being pointed out in front of everyone. It can indeed be very discouraging, but it is crucial to have a positive mind-set and the willingness to take in negative comments. It is okay to make mistakes, but you must learn from your mistakes and not let them happen again in the future. Show appreciation to your bosses and supervisors who are willing to give you genuine feedback. It’s never too late to make a change and improve on your flaws. If you are not accepting of your own flaws, they will likely follow through to future workplaces which will greatly hinder your career progression.

4. Step out of your comfort zone and be confident to share your opinions

One of the reasons employers will want to hire interns is to keep the workplace afresh and brimming with new ideas and to encourage young talents to enter their profession. Thus, we took this internship opportunity to voice out new ideas and confidently shared the rationale behind them. Of course, we were very hesitant at first, often holding back our tongues because we thought that our ideas were still lacking and in the ideation phase.

But, we really appreciate the golden phrase we picked up here “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes” after taking steps to break out of our shell and initiate new ideas, such as our recent Linkedin Challenge. Another thing that we took away, was to suggest a follow-up action or improvement rather than just pointing out what an idea is lacking. This would not only better add value to the discussion but also prevent being labelled as the “nit-picker”. Most importantly, we grew in our confidence and we learnt the positive examples of how feedback should be given.

5. Make your presence known

Is it due to the work from home arrangements brought about by COVID-19 that caused the lack of presence? Well, that is partially true. But, more importantly, it is taking the effort and initiative to update our manager about our progress. After noticing it was something that we might have lacked, we took the initiative to report the agenda for the day, what results or progress we have achieved for a specific task, the estimated deadline that we will turnaround our work in and more. This is the competency of “Follow-Up”, another great work behaviour, we learnt here at Citadel Search. Besides that, we volunteered and initiated new social media content and functions to further boost our engagement.

Don’t just work blindly. Let others know the effort you have put in, and the quantifiable outcomes you have made. Catch onto every opportunity to ask for feedback, advice, performance evaluation and learn the ropes from your seniors. Strike a balance between over-relying on others to grow and taking charge of your own learnings to open up new possibilities and soar.

Final Tip!

Before your internship ends, make valuable connections with your colleagues, and one of the best ways to start is LinkedIn! LinkedIn is such a common and convenient platform to connect with professionals. Take this opportunity to connect with your colleagues and stay in touch even after the internship ends! One of our biggest takeaways from this internship is the relationship forged with our colleagues and interns. To be part of this team-oriented and close-knitted family is our privilege, and we will always remember the experience gained at Citadel Search. 

To you who are reading this, we hope you took away some useful tips and that you will enjoy your every internship journey. So grateful that we were offered to continue this journey as Associate Consultants, which one of us would be pursuing! We cannot wait to find what exciting events and role awaits! Citadel Search is now recruiting new interns to join their dynamic family, if you are interested, send your resume here.

Written by Si Min and Yi Lin, Citadel Search Summer Interns 2021

Scroll to top