Programme Reflection04/05/2023 2023-07-27 11:35
PROGRAMME FEEDBACK & ALUMNI NETWORK
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- Off-boarding Checklist (Internship programmes only)
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Listen or Read
Following your internship, it’s incredibly valuable to consider what you have learned and experienced over the past weeks. It is only through reflection that we can truly understand how our experiences have affected us and what impact they have had on our lives.
This post-experience reflection guide aims to encourage you to ask yourself questions and draw comparisons to previously abstract ideas that should now be better understood. By comprehending lessons learned, they can become internalised and therefore put to good use in future work opportunities.
It’s rare for anybody to have a 100% positive work experience and the same is true for internships. We can learn from bad experiences just as much, if not more, than from good. Keep in mind that as an intern, at the beginning of your career experiences and career path, you will almost always learn something that will be conducive to you in future work settings.
Start by simply considering short answers to the following questions and if you are still completing your internship placement, consider discussing these questions with your supervisor to get their perspective.
Building your network
- Have you built relationships or networked with the people inside your internship host company and in relation to the programme in general?
- How can you maintain or strengthen these networks in the future?
Have you identified a career path you want to pursue or avoid as part of this experience and what steps must you now take to make this happen?
- How would you describe the culture at your internship host company (casual/creative/corporate/cold/commutative) and was it what you expected?
- How does the above fit with your personal values and ideal work environment?
- How would you do things differently if it was your company?
Intercultural Aspects and Diversity
- How did people from diverse backgrounds cooperate and what challenges were there?
- What cultural considerations surprised you?
- If you had a Cultural Mentor, what were your most significant learnings?
- What new skills/software have you learned since beginning your experience?
- What types of tasks did you discover that you particularly enjoy or dislike?
- Was there anything you specifically avoided as you didn’t understand or feel capable?
- How can you apply what you have learned in the future?
- How did the internship compare to your expectations?
- Is there anything you can identify as having changed about yourself as a result of your experience?
Be Ready to talk about your experience
Communication is one of the most important professional skills you can develop. The overall process you originally underwent of seeking an internship, followed by the work experience itself will all have contributed to the growth of your communication skills.
As you reflect on your internship, practice speaking succinctly and precisely about your experience with a view to be able to summarise in less than two minutes. Try to use action-oriented and positive words.
- 30 Seconds: Introduce yourself, your university and course. Give the name of the host company organisation, internship duration and site location. Share the major point of interest about the host company.
- 60 Seconds: Provide your title and role at the host company and describe your main responsibilities. Describe the processes you were responsible for clearly but without going into too much detail. Talk about technical and professional skills, software packages you learned and/or developed. Focus on challenges (in a positive light) that you overcame as part of this journey and highlight any standout achievements from the internship.
- 30 Seconds: Summarise your experience and what you learned reflecting on how it compared to your expectations and how you developed overall over this period or work experience. Contemplate how this might impact you in a personal and professional context and any impact on future career decisions.
“My name is Amy Smith and I am currently studying a BSc in Marketing at The University of Plymouth. For my placement, I completed an 8-week internship at Venice Direct. This company is a manufacturer of high-end furniture for the home, produced in various Italian styles, and is based in Ho Chi Minh City.
I was a marketing and sales intern who was personally responsible for conducting an analysis and providing recommendations on new market entry for the company’s furniture products. One of my key tasks was a scoping exercise to establish which countries would prove to be a logical step for focusing on product distribution and the tasks and costs involved. This was based on the wealth of the prospective country, export tariffs between Vietnam and the destination country and ease of doing business as well as available distribution channels.
In order to gain an understanding of potential demand for our products, I learned how to use the company’s Alibaba platform and conducted a review exercise into the prevalence of relevant RFQs (Request for Quotes) for home-furnishing, and the quality of these prospective orders in relation to the value of our product. Low-quality RFQs (cheaper product such as MDF or MFC as opposed to hardwoods) or small quantity non-FCL (full container load) were discounted. It was difficult to understand exactly what my host company were looking for at first, but I was ultimately able to suggest preferential destinations for new market entry along with reputable distribution channels.
Further to this, I was required to investigate the cost and steps required to gain certification specifically in order to achieve custom’s clearance to sell the company’s products in my recommended destination(s). As a result of my work, my host company has taken steps to progress the sale of their product in my recommended destination and has approved further spend into gaining the necessary certifications. They are also advancing talks with various distribution channels, some of which I had recommended as part of my review.
The internship placement was a lot more focussed than I had first expected and I didn’t expect to get assigned a project that the company would ultimately use. I was grateful to have been trusted with this exercise, but I also understand from the company’s standpoint that it wouldn’t have been damaging if I hadn’t done a good job. I couldn’t be directly involved with the company’s existing clients, but my supervisor set me small tasks in relation to their BAU work and gave me visibility of his day to day responsibilities, so I was still exposed to it. Regardless, the internship has taught me that I prefer independent, analytical work over corresponding directly with clients. The experience has encouraged me to work in a manufacturing/export remit in the future, though furniture specifically isn’t my specific area of interest.”
Be able to write about your experience
For many, internships are your first professional experience in a particular field. In order to leverage your experience in terms of your future career, it is important to be able to write about your experience in a professional way.
Writing about your experience in the context of your CV/Resume is a good place to start. Your ability to write about your internship experience on your resume is incredibly important. Employers do not spend time reading multiple details in a CV, therefore representing yourself and your work in a precise, positive manner is essential.
Practice writing your key tasks and achievements from the internship in a way that clearly describes how you added value.
Include skills, equipment, software and any training required to complete your work goals. Be specific with your accomplishments from the internship, and how your work had a positive impact on your host company either qualitatively, quantitatively or both.
- One of 6 organisers who delivered a successful music fundraising event which earned more than 30,000 GBP for local charities
- Made changes to the company’s CRM system which improved operational efficiency by 15% (or a 4-hour saving per week)
- Identified a new income stream which is forecast to increase revenue of a specific product range by 15,000 GBP per year
Once you’ve been through the consideration, speaking and writing exercises, you should be able to fully understand the impact your internship has had on your development, as well as be better equipped to communicate about your internship experience to third parties.