Technology is such a beautiful world. You get to know what is coming next before everyone else does, and you get to experience many things that a lot of people may never know.
I was fortunate enough, in my teenage year, to do an unpaid internship in a building automation company. Within a couple of months, I learned much more than during a full year at school. My internship started in the operations department. However, within a month after starting, my manager, being very happy with my contribution, recommended me for further insight. I was then allowed to continue my internship in the engineering department. By the end of my internship, I have also been offered to spend a few weeks with the customer relations team. It was a truly exceptional experience, and there is so much that one can learn in a short period if given the opportunity and willing to learn.
Today, I try to give back to the community by sharing with others my experience in the hope that it will help them in their professional career. I noticed that some young people are having trouble getting the most out of the Trellix Graduate Internship Program. This scenario occurs because people apply for internships for the wrong reasons. The following are some of the reasons I believe are not good enough to seek an internship.
Before getting started, for those who don’t know; Trellix is a software company, located in Cotonou, Benin, specialized in building applications for e-commerce. We have different programs intended to help senior students and young graduates build a successful career in the world of technology. The Trellix Graduate Internship Program, on which this article focuses on, is the perfect opportunity to learn with word-class professionals and become knowledgeable in the tech industry. The graduate internship program is available in areas such as software engineering, operations, marketing, customer relation, product research, and design. Besides the graduate internship program, Trellix also has a spring internship program, a freelance program, and a fellowship program. Each of these programs covers different needs. You can read more about them on our website. While the advice in this article is mainly targeted to graduate interns, they are also helpful if you are interested in other programs.
Don’t do an internship to showcase how much you know or how smart you are
I believe the main purpose of an internship is to learn. However, instead of being at school and only learning theoretically without always being able to relate or being able to understand how it works in the real world, an internship is the perfect opportunity to learn and practice at the same time. For example, don’t be that web developer that acts as if they invented Altair 8800 because they won a $300 laptop at a contest. Or a content writer, who wants to showcase all the fancy words they have learned while playing Scrabble with their sister. No-one really cares about it at Trellix. What is expected from your mentor is to know if you are able to learn and understand new concepts and how fast you can do it. On a side note, the main purpose of school is learning to learn.
Don’t try to be the know-it-all in the room
It is similar to the previous point but deeper, because you have to demonstrate that you received a good education. Upsetting your mentor with futilities you have been reading on Twitter that you don’t even comprehend is not going to make them believe that you have received a good education. Furthermore, by focusing on doing that, you miss many opportunities to learn from the experience of people around you which is probably deeper than 280-characters. It is a false misconception to believe that people will like or respect you more because you are the know-it-all in the room. Meanwhile, if you knew everything, you would be super rich by now; so there is no point in applying for an internship.
Don’t do an internship if you are unable to learn
If you think you know everything, you make yourself unteachable. You can’t pour water in a full glass. Again the purpose of the internship is for you to learn new things. Thus if you are not learning, you are wasting your time, regardless if it is a paid internship. The best thing you can get from your internship is knowledge. Unfortunately, learning is not an easy process. The older you get, the more disadvantaged you are. Learning becomes more difficult the older you get because new knowledge may come to challenge what you have already taken for granted in the past.
Don’t do an internship because your parents want you to do so
This one is not that obvious. After all, your parents only want the best for you. When they insist that you do an internship, it is probably because they believe it will help you in your professional career. This might be true, but the reality is that an internship is not useful unless you are passionate about it. If you are not motivated to do an internship or are not interested in the field you are interning in, you will likely drive poor performance. There is a great chance that you will want to give up before the end, depending on how intense the internship is. Personal motivation and interest play a vital role in the learning process.
Don’t do an internship because your school made it mandatory
As part of your study, your school may make it mandatory for you to acquire a professional experience which is a very good thing, as professional experience is meant to complement theoretical studies. However, some students don’t always see it that way. They just understand that to complete their program of study, they have to undertake an internship. This train of thought leads them to seek an internship that would help them validate their credits. So they look for a place where they could spend those few 3 to 6 months needed to get a degree. Again, regardless of whatever your school forces you to do or not, you as a senior student should make sure that the internship fits with your professional aspirations. The right internship will be a big boost in your career path, and the wrong one will just be a waste of time; before you realize it, it might be too late.
Don’t do an internship because it is the summer and you are bored at home
This one, too, is not obvious. It might seem to be a clever move during the summer to look for a place where you can spend your free time while earning a bit of cash. The reality is that there is a big difference between a graduate internship and a summer job. Waitress, data entry operator, or Uber driver are very good to keep you busy during the summer while saving a bit of cash. Unfortunately, a graduate internship at Trellix is not. The pace and amount of energy that would be required for you to invest in it will likely be way more than at school and this will spoil your holidays. You will no longer get the free time that you needed to rest, party with your friends and perform other holiday activities as planned.
Don’t do an internship because you need some quick cash
I am a strong advocate of unpaid internships. Unfortunately, graduate internship programs at Trellix are paid. The reason why I prefer unpaid internships is that it forces you to pay attention to what matters. An internship is a few months in a long professional career (20 to 40 years), and selecting an internship based on a few bucks is non-optimal. If you get a successful career, the amount of wealth you would have amassed by the end of your career will be at least 100,000 times more of what you have been paid during your internship. Your internship revenue would have only represented 0.00001% of your wealth. Again money is likely a very bad indicator of a good internship. I would rather be paid nothing during an internship that would help me get a job of 200K than being paid 50K during an internship and get a job of 80K. On a side note, I know a lot of ways to earn “quick” cash on the internet. If this is what you are looking for, just ping me on Twitter.
Don’t do an internship at Trellix if you don’t like to get out of your comfort zone
We receive around 2,000 applications for internships per year and we select around 15 interns. So needless to say that getting an internship at Trellix is not easy. But that is the easy part. Out of 15 interns, only 10 manage to make it to the end of the internship program. Why? One of the dropped out interns explained: “I have always been a top performer at school while doing little effort. This is the first time I have to do some effort and I am still not getting good results.” That reminds me of when my sister, a middle schooler, got admitted to a school where she performed top with little effort. She begged my parents to change her school so that she could get back to a more challenging environment. The reality is if you are being too comfy, it is probably because you are not challenging yourself enough. When you try to push your limit, you find yourself outside of your comfort zone, and this is how you grow.
Don’t do a graduate internship at Trellix if you are still a child
No, we don’t want to call your parents to ask for permission for you to come to a team event on a Saturday morning. We understand that as a student out of school, you might not always know what professionalism means. It is fine, as it is not something that is taught at school or can be learned in a book, or on the internet. It's just like learning how to date by reading blog posts on the internet. It does not really work well. The purpose of the internship program is to learn professionalism. Unfortunately, there are some levels of unprofessionalism that even your internship manager might not be able to cope with.
There are only two good indicators when choosing an internship. The first being the knowledge that you can get from that internship, and the second being the opportunities that you will get access to after the internship, whether it be a job, a network, or other opportunities.