We need to locate the development of our careers with the scope and sequence of our work experience and internships – how we make the most of the opportunities presented to us for work within the context of what we will need to maximise our choices now and later in our lives.
The sequence of growth in our professional career is defined by taking the opportunities that present themselves to us. Further opportunities may also be engineered and manifested by us. Rarely are we ever spoon-fed any opportunity to prove ourselves or our abilities to contribute to an organisation. We need to identify how we might provide an ongoing demonstration of character, competency, and capacity in our personal and professional lives. This will come about through specific internships and work experience placements.
Which organisations or fields do we want to find ourselves working in? How can we create possibilities to do so? When are we going to do this? We need to know our potential career paths and use experiences to test whether or not they're really suitable for us. In this way, we can refine our options until we have a clear next stage for career development. Sometimes these opportunities will be brief and undertaken on a voluntary basis. The lessons we learn from them are just as important as those we gain from paid employment. Sometimes these opportunities will flourish and lead to a full-time paid position with a tangible future attached to it. Other times we need to take away from an experience positive learning outcomes instead.
Our strategy, in all of this, returns us to our understanding of the values, strengths, dispositions, and competencies that set us apart from others. These aspects of who we are and who we are becoming establish the direction for what we want to do and what we believe we will be best at. Proving this to ourselves and others comes from our academic performance, how we demonstrate confidence in ourselves when the opportunity to do so arises, and everything in between.
“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ‘em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”
Our reputation plays a key role in this. If we are good people who perform at a high level and have an active interest in becoming highly competent in what we do in a manner that brings value to the organisation in which we are working, then prospective employers and our sponsors will think of us when considering our suitability for further placement. That doesn't mean it always works out. Sometimes no matter how good we are at what we do, we can miss out on opportunities for reasons outside of our control or because we just don't 'fit' the situation. We need to accept this and keep moving forward as we build a career.
Finally, when we are lucky enough to find ourselves with an internship or work experience position, we need to make the most of it. Focusing our time, energy, and expertise towards our performance in these positions is the way that we prove to people who gave us a chance that they were right to believe in us. In doing so, we are respecting the work we have done in our career development program to get there, as well as the people that have helped us along the way. More importantly, we need to take this opportunity that we have worked towards to apply all of the relevant character and competencies we have gained.
We can contemplate our Work Experience and Internships by considering the following questions: