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Top Tips for the Class of 2018

By Ruth
November 29 2018

Posted in Student Resources

It was great to catch up with a bunch of 2018 interns at events last night, we celebrated the beginning of summer internships in Auckland (photo album here), and partnered with the JuniorDev meetup to run a career panel event in Wellington. There were some common themes in our conversations with interns, alumni and mentors, so we thought it would be a good idea to share some top tips, and hopefully let you know that you’re not alone if you’re feeling a wee bit overwhelmed in the first weeks of your role!

Interns, mentors & volunteers at our Auckland SoT2018 celebration party


The first bit can be overwhelming

It’s fairly unanimous among new interns that the learning curve at the start of their internship looks approximately like this:

steep (vertical) learning curve

This is ok. It’s normal. Don’t panic 😉

If you’ve gone into your internship confident that you know some stuff, don’t let go of that feeling if you come to a realisation that there’s a lot more to know. Your studies have prepared you for parts of the job, but the only way to understand the context, the dependencies, the wide range of other stuff that relates to your skill-set is to experience it for real. That’s the point of your internship!

Sometimes the only way in is to leap in, and your employer should be supporting you through the first bit of your internship!

If you’re the kind of person who likes to understand things deeply, or you prefer a more structured learning environment, then take a deep breath and try to figure stuff out. Ask questions if you’re not sure, but remember that the first few days/weeks you will be like a sponge, absorbing information and getting an understanding of this strange new planet you’ve landed on. Hang in there.

It will get better

By the end of summer, there’s a good chance that you’ll look back in awe at the leaps you’ve made in your knowledge & skill. Day by day, it will get better. As you solve problems and discover things, you’ll be building on your knowledge and developing skills that will accelerate your confidence in the job! Your mentor and wider team will be supporting you.

It’s a great idea to keep a record of your internship, whether it’s a blog or vlog or journal notes (and even if you’re the only one who ever reads it!) That way, you can look back on it and see how far you have come.

Here’s a cool idea from twitter, the source is another SoT alumnus, Christie Davis:

Ask for help

Unlike some educational environments, the world of work is a team sport- your colleagues are extremely motivated for you to succeed! Let them know if you’re not sure about something. Try and figure it out yourself, but ask for help if you get stuck!

One of the best skills you can practice during your internship is communicating clearly and effectively with your colleagues.

Be kind to yourself

Being a sponge and engaging with any new task is exhausting. Your brain will be tired, and will perform better if you rest! Know your limits and make sure you balance your intense work/learning day with enough sleep and non-work distractions so that you are refreshed and energised to do it again tomorrow.

Build your support network

You will have a mentor/manager/colleagues alongside you, but take this opportunity to find out what other people at your company do. It’s a great opportunity to find out how your bit fits into the wider business, and what other job titles mean in real life! People usually respond well to newbies asking questions about their job, and who knows, you may discover a whole new career path that you never knew about!

It’s not (all) about the tech

Yes, your internship is a chance to hone your domain knowledge and practice the skills you’ve been studying. But there’s more to it than the technical skills! As well as communication skills (interacting with humans = important!), you’ve got the opportunity to learn about the business you’re in. How does the product/service you’re working on deliver value? What does it feel like to be working in this type of organisation? Do you see a future for yourself in this kind of role?

Your career starts now!

Sometimes during your internship you might feel lost, you might have too much work or not enough work. The project you’re working on may not be what you expected, and all these things can be tough. The biggest piece of advice from past interns is to see EVERYTHING as an opportunity, to make the most of what comes along, and think about how this summer can be a springboard for your future career.

At the start of your internship, set some personal and professional goals. What do you want to take away from the experience? Also think about the legacy you want to leave behind from this role. What do you want your employer & team to remember about you?


Thanks heaps to the JuniorDev panellists, interns, mentors & volunteers who shared their tips & tricks, and GOOD LUCK to the Class of 2018, you will totally rock the summer!


JuniorDev meetup early career panellists: Lena, David, Amelia & Jaymesh


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