How to Turn Your Internship Into a Job

An internship is one of the best ways to get into the career you want if you don’t have the necessary experience. Companies will often hire their interns rather than advertise if the intern has done well because the intern already knows the company and its procedures and it reduces any downtime during handover (not to mention advertising and recruitment costs).

If you don’t end up with a job through it, you’ll still have the experience and the references to push you forward in your job hunt and place you above those candidates who applying raw.

This is where you should be developing your work ethic. While many internships are for little or even no pay, how you perform in this phase is key to gaining employment. If you do the bare minimum, put your focus on fetching the coffee and saunter about when work is scarce, you’re neither making the right impression nor making the most of the opportunity.

Go in early, leave late, ask how you can help others when you’re low on work, remember people’s coffee preferences and the times of day they usually go on a run if that’s all you’re doing – be pre-emptive, listen and listen a lot to understand both what is going on in the company and to identify areas where you can help.

Be productive, proactive and perform over and above how you’re expected to. Pay attention to detail, regardless of how menial the task because if you’re trusted to do the little things, the bigger, more important roles and responsibilities are more likely to come your way.

If you’re not interested in your internship, why are you there? An internship isn’t a way for companies to gain cheap labour, they’re putting effort and time into training and mentoring you so you should be interested in growing your skillset through their tutelage. Ask questions and then ask more questions. This is a learning experience, this is your first foray into the industry or this particular career arc so put your all into it. Learn about the company, ask co-workers the best and worst aspects of the job, learn the job, ask questions and show a genuine interest in what you’re there to do.

How to Set Up a Productive Home Based Workspace

The opportunity to be able to work from home is both amazing and difficult at the same time. One the one hand you’re able to wake up at your leisure, saunter into your office (or onto the sofa, wherever you work) and set your own hours without worrying that he boss is watching over your shoulder. The downside is that in your own home, it becomes too easy to slack off and too easy to work way too hard because there’s no separation between your work and home life.

After the initial luxury of working from home, watching movies in the background and going for mid-afternoon walks (or naps) wears thin, you’ll find that you do prefer some semblance or structure to be able to work effectively and efficiently. This all begins with choosing a more efficient workspace.

Choose a room or area of your home that you can set up as your office / workspace and where it won’t be in the way or messed up with ease. If you have a spare room, it makes the task far easier but if not, setting up a desk in the lounge or fashioning a makeshift bar style desk against a wall or window will suffice. The intention is to both set up a productive workspace but also provide that much needed separation from work at the end of the day. Choose somewhere out of view (if you have the space) from the bedroom or other place of relaxation so you can truly disconnect from work when you’re not working.

Lighting

Choose a room or space with an abundance of natural light. Place your desk by a window, under a skylight or by the French doors – wherever you’ll have the best light. Not only will it aid your power bill but it’ll also be far easier on the eyes than keeping the light on all day. Natural light is also a big booster for productivity.

However bright the natural light though, you will still need a lamp or overhead light (or both) to aid you in low light, overcast or evening scenarios. Choose soft lighting in multiple applications so that you can adjust to suit. We use a desk lamp for a brighter, more focused light with an overhead low watt light for general use.

Desk position

If you’re into Feng Shui or just like to see how the positions of your desk placement affects income and power under the theory of Feng Shui, there are many resources online to show you the optimal placement based on your room configuration.

The Basics

A multifunction printer is essential as you’ll find yourself scanning and printing a lot. That also means you need back up ink cartridges and paper and while you’ll likely use your fax function maybe once, it’s still advantageous to have.

A good high-speed Wi-Fi connection and a proper handset for your cellphone allow you to work far more efficiently than balancing your cellphone on your shoulder while trying to simultaneously work. A microphone and headphones are also handy for when you need to conduct Skype calls for a more professional and higher quality Skype experience.

It goes without saying but basic office supplies, pens, a computer, paper, calendars, planners etc. should all be a given.

Furniture

If you have the luxury of a spare room for an office, really think about the space before throwing any old furniture in there. Do you plan on bringing clients here? If so, the space will need to be visually pleasing, provide adequate seating and feel / look / smell inviting. While a good many motivational posters these days use profanity to get a point across and ‘drive the motivation home’, we advise leaving them out of the office if you think clients will ever be coming in, it’s just not professional.

A good quality desk and desk chair should be your big investments and the two pieces you spend the most time deciding on. For Harlow Garland, they have a DIY desk because they couldn’t find something that met their needs. They bought an ornate dining table base off Trade Me with a free (but broken) table top, completely stripped and recovered the desk top, added shelving and embedded their logo in epoxy resin and paired it with a grand wingback chair (adding casters to for practicality and range of motion) to provide comfort, back support and complement the overall aesthetic of the room.

Decorate the space with artwork, colours, scents, motivating quotes or images – anything that puts you in creative mood, the more personalised the space, the more inspiring and motivating, the more productive you’ll find you are. Make sure it’s in your eyeline rather than overhead to ensure that you’re constantly seeing that reinforcement, even if it’s just peripherally.

Storage

You will need storage – a lot of it. Shop around and see what’s available readily and continually so that you don’t buy 6 folders of a trendy new Kikki-K line to find that the line has been replaced a few months later and is no longer available. Opt for a mix of box files, accordion files, suspension files - anything that is relevant to your business.

How to Work Remotely

Nowadays, with an increased focus on diversity and flexibility, many employers are becoming more and more open to their employees working non-standard hours or working remotely. For them it reduces their FTE costs by not needing as large a desk count and such but it also helps them tick some boxes in regards to their employment practices and turnover if they’re shown to be a flexible workplace.

Mostly, the people you see working remotely are either freelancers, solopreneurs, virtual assistants or international contractors working as a branch of a company based elsewhere. If you’re not sure whether you company will be open to this kind of arrangement, ask them! And if they haven’t done it before, present them with a business case for how it will work and benefit both of you and why they should consider it – you’ll find that employers aren’t as scary as they’re made out to be and will often be really receptive and impressed with your forethought and moxy.

Freelancing

Writers, web developers, IT specialists, graphic designers, photographers, contractors and sales people are all common freelancer types - with probably the least reliable income unless you’re fiercely proactive about marketing and cold-calling or you manage to set up a recurring freelance contract with multiple clients.

Effectively, you’re self-employed (yay!) so set yourself up with a professional business website to act as your portfolio since this will generally be the first point of contact. Attend events, market yourself and sign up for jobs on sites like ELance or Fiverr to gain some initial clients. Rake in the testimonials because word of mouth will sell your services a lot faster than traditional advertising mediums.

Entrepreneurship

More on the self-employed front is entrepreneurship. The beauty of owning your own business is that it can generally be done anywhere as long as your business isn’t specific to a certain locale or demographic.

If you’re looking to build a start up on the cheap, a lot of overseas locations like South America and South East Asia can be incredible for resources, staffing and for massive cost cuts on expenses. If you’re planning to start your business in the city where expenses are high, it definitely pays to start by sharing your time between a full or part time job and your own business until the business is performing well enough on its own that you can comfortably afford the expenses without the day job. Look at shared space offices if you don’t have the luxury of a home office or dedicated work space and contract some work out to those freelancers above who will often do the work at lower cost than you can find locally.

The Logistics

Working out a place to live and work is the next big question once you find the world open to you. If you’re not locked into a specific location by the company you’re working remotely for or not targeting a specific local demographic, you really have free reign over where you work.

Air B’n B can be a fantastic resource for finding short term accommodation and Nomad List is also a great resource (and more specifically targeted to remote workers rather than travelers), providing filters for narrowing your options and finding truly effective spaces whether they’re co-living/ co-working or private options.

In New Zealand, we have Shared Space which offers a variety of co-working options whether they be an office within a larger office, a desk in an open space of like minded creatives or a hot desk or meeting room to use when you feel like coming in. It lends your business more credibility that the usual coffee-shop meetup where you’re struggling to hear and risk spilling your flat white down your crisp white business shirt (or stretched v-neck hipster tee depending on your line of work).

How to Overcome Mental Obstacles

We really loved Marc Ecko's book on branding, 'Unlabel' - it's an insightful and laidback business book that hits you right where it counts - your business savvy. 

In this video, Marc Ecko and Inc. Magazine discuss how to overcome the mental obstacles holding you back from your achievement.

TED Talk: How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over

Ivy-educated criminal lawyer, one of the top career and relationship experts in America and married working mother of three, Mel Robbins discusses the mental clutter standing between you and what you want in this TEDx video.

TED Talk: The Art of Making Impossible, Possible

Ingrid Vanderveldt, Entrepreneur-in-residence for Dell, CEO of Green Girl Energy and founding organiser of the GLASS Forum (Global Leadership and Sustainable Success) discusses The rt of Making the Impossible, Possible in this TEDX video shot by Repertoire Productions.

Ted Talk: The Discipline of Finishing

In this TEDX Talk, Conor Neil talks through how we make decisions and the criteria we should apply, drawing examples from such experiments as famed The Marshmallow Test. 

"Success is a result of repeated good habits and it’s important to understand this. We overestimate what we can achieve in a day and underestimate what we can achieve in a year." (via)