Top 5 Internship Tips to Maximise Your Experience

Why Internships are Useful

Did you take up an internship during this holiday to add on to your CV? An internship is a great way to gain knowledge & skills and obtain hands-on experience in the relevant field, allowing interns to acquire a meaningful understanding of the corporates and industries better. Obtaining a purposeful summer internship will give you an upper hand when you first enter the workforce, especially if you have the chance to network with a mentor and other professionals in your field. Generally, employers will favour fresh graduates who have done more than one relevant internship because they are more familiar with the industry know-how, best practices, and workflow.

Internships also offer an excellent opportunity to build relationships with fellow interns and professionals. Contributing to your professional networks. Engaging with social media can further enhance these connections, showcasing your positive attitude and readiness to learn. Staying focused, setting goals, and maintaining an open-minded approach are crucial to making the most of your internship experience.

By paying attention to the work environment and demonstrating professional skills, you can gain significant work experience. That will benefit your long-term career path and career development. Don’t be afraid to go the extra mile during your internship, as this can leave a lasting impression on your supervisors and peers. This proactive approach can lead to valuable references and insights into the full-time positions you might seek in the future.

So, don’t underestimate the importance of internships. The experience gained and the ability to network 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 ensured a smooth onboarding process, being 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 we reflect on our time at Citadel Search, the onboarding experience played a pivotal role in shaping our initial impressions and confidence in handling various tasks. The warm welcome and thorough introductions helped us understand what was expected of us and enabled us to hit the ground running. This ultimately contributed to our successful integration and made our internship journey both enjoyable and fruitful.

With our internship coming to an end, 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, which can be crucial for building a compelling CV. 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 professional 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.

Receiving constructive criticism from your employers can sometimes feel discouraging, especially when it happens publicly. However, maintaining a positive mindset is key. Embrace feedback as an opportunity for growth and improvement. It’s normal to stumble, but learning from mistakes is crucial for personal and professional development.

Express gratitude towards bosses and supervisors who provide genuine feedback—they’re invested in your success. Remember, acknowledging and addressing your shortcomings is the first step towards improvement. Don’t let fear of criticism hold you back; instead, use it as fuel to refine your skills and excel in your career.

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

Employers often seek interns to inject fresh perspectives and innovative ideas into the workplace, while also nurturing emerging talent in their field. During our internship, we embraced this opportunity to introduce novel concepts and articulate the reasoning behind them. Initially, we hesitated, uncertain about the maturity of our ideas and their readiness for change. 

But, we really appreciate the golden phrase we picked up at Citadel Search –  “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, the achievements you have accomplished, 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. 

It’s crucial to develop professional relationships with your colleagues. Building these connections can lead to lifelong professional support and mentorship. A professional network is invaluable, and LinkedIn is an excellent tool to maintain these connections. Make sure to leverage such platforms to stay in touch with professionals you’ve met during your internship.

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

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

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