OJT Time? Here's Everything You Should Know
It’s your first step into the “real world,” so make it count!
When we were in high school, we thought we knew what we were doing, making decisions for our future and planning the next stage of our lives. When we were in college, we considered ourselves adults, free to cut class and schedule our own days. Each time, many of us were too confident and the world often times swallowed us whole.
There was paperwork to be filled in, transportation and lodging to consider and repercussions we never saw coming. But an internship (aka OJT) is our first real step into the working world—and you do not want to be caught unprepared.
An internship will help shape your career path, no matter how trivial it might seem at the beginning. You might think it’s just another school requirement, but it should be taken more seriously than that midterm paper you just handed in. Your OJT experience has the potential to open doors and that in itself shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Your school might require you to work for a company that has something to do with your course, but do keep an open mind. There are departments you might not even have heard of and positions you never thought were real things. Apply everywhere that peaks your interest—you have nothing to lose.
When you get a call for an interview, be professional and make sure to keep in mind any information that the caller gives you. In particular: Where the office is, what their dress code is, what time the interview is and what the internship position will entail.
Prepare for the interview, show up early and be honest during the actual exchange. Make sure you know about the company and what they do, make sure you’re appropriately dressed and that you bring everything you need (copies of your resume, an ID and your A game) and—most importantly—be polite and respectful. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
When you get that slot, don’t be complacent with what your immediate supervisor (IS) gives you. Give every task your best shot, but don’t worry so much about getting things right the first time. Ask for help and ask for direction whenever necessary because open communication with your boss is vital.
If you find yourself without much to do, you can ask for extra tasks. This shows dedication and work ethic, which are two things that every company will look highly on. Just make sure to catch your IS at a good time because these people have other responsibilities, too.
Should something go wrong, own up to it instead of waiting to get caught. Don’t worry so much about it though as your IS is likely to double check everything before it goes in the company’s pipeline.
Also, you should maybe consider dropping b1t1 drinks after work—unless it's a Friday night and there's no work tomorrow.
When the hours are completed, it will most likely mean the end of your time with your company. But if you did well during your short tenure, they might offer you a full time position or bump up your resume should you decide to actually apply.
If you are offered a position, be as honest as you can be. Air out your issues, your concerns and any questions that you have. If you’re more interested in a different department, then say so by all means. If you were looking for more responsibility, then be blunt (but respectful) about it.
And to avoid burning bridges, leave the company in the best possible night. Say your proper farewells and don’t just disappear. If you can afford it, sponsor a little snack break for the people you worked closely with. If they offer one, don’t decline unless necessary.
The point of an OJT is to give you the opportunity to dip your toes in the real working world. That way, you’ll know if the path you’ve been on is the right one for you or if you should explore other things (which there is always time for—do not panic). There is an entire world out there that you just have to open your eyes to.
But no matter what, give it your best shot. You never know what else lies ahead.