Internships are golden opportunities that could exponentially add value to your resume, and possibly increase your chances of getting a permanent job. But securing a position post-internship isn’t always as easy.

One of our first interns told us that her Polytechnic lecturer told her to liken herself to plankton. To not think any work was beneath her and to take any given task on with gusto to get the most out of her internship. Interns, often like plankton, are microscopic when you look at the big picture of any company. But similar to plankton, though small, they play a crucial role in the everyday processes that keep the company functioning.

Here are 5 key takeaways from CEOs themselves, on what’ll help you not only stand out from your peers, but transform your mindset into a positive one that will get you far in life.

1. Having a growth mindset

In a nutshell, a growth mindset is constantly believing in the potential of yourself and the people around you – that there is a wealth of abilities that you’ve yet to master. This usually only comes through hard work and resilience. 

As Bryan Choo, founder and CEO of TSL Media says: “A marker I use for having a growth mindset is how staff respond to challenges or new tasks. Some dread them and see the chance as “more” work while some embrace them as opportunities to acquire new skill sets. The latter group continues to grow and become more valuable. The former continues to stagnate in their comfort zone. So it’s a no-brainer which type of staff managers favour and end up promoting.

Most staff stop their learning in school, so another important marker of a growth mindset is someone who enjoys learning in their own time. It’s one reason many CEOs place a high importance on reading. You expose yourself to different worldviews and you keep learning.”

2. Be heard and seen

As the smallest fry in the corporate sea, it’s often hard to be seen – let alone have your voice be heard. But it’s important not to be intimidated. As an intern, you can consider yourself the “fresh blood” that has been transfused into a company. What good does that do? You bring with you a new perspective that might’ve been overlooked all this time. 

Nimesh Desai, CEO of Wunderman Thompson Singapore, advises all interns to muster all your courage and use every given opportunity to “ voice [your] views, be involved and build strong relationships.” Only through this, are lasting impressions made.

3. Do not get distracted by titles and salaries

It’s very normal to want to ascertain your career growth possibilities even as an intern, but coveting a certain position or having unrealistic expectations where salary is concerned will only set you off on a downward spiral of negative thinking. As John Ng, the Managing Director of GOV@Publicis, puts it: 

“Do not get distracted by titles or salaries but find out what you can learn because what you know will prepare you for the next job. Make sure that you have a positive attitude because you can learn skills but if you do not have the right attitude, you will not make meaningful progress in your career.”

4. Enter with a positive attitude

Riding on John Ng’s spiel, another CEO who believes that a positive attitude and disposition is everything when it comes to success is Tay Guan Hin, the Creative Chairman of BBDO. He adds that: “The one thing that students need isn’t just raw creative talent. It is resilience. A career in any agency begins with the right attitude. And the hunger to learn and grow no matter what it takes. We assume we have all the data and information at our fingertips, but we don’t know everything. The day we know everything is when we stop growing in our careers.”

5. Don’t give up when the going gets tough

Gen Z and Millennials are often mistaken for being “strawberries” who don’t have the grit to withstand hardship. And while that statement is not true, it’s easy to mistake a tough work environment as a toxic one. 

Evangeline Leong Kobe Image credit: Evangeline Leong

Evangeline Leong, the CEO of advertising firm Kobe, encourages all interns to “do whatever job [that] allows you to build experience, learn from the best, and hone transferable soft skills and professional values. These go a long way.” This even applies to jobs you find yourself in that aren’t necessarily on par with the dream job you have in mind. 

She also goes on to say that chasing the dollar and a high paying job is something that comes with experience and skill. What’s important is perspective, and seeing the toughest of times as “an opportunity to build your character. Don’t give up. Make a dent.”

Converting your internship into a full-time position

As new entrants to the corporate world, it’s easy to get lost in thinking about what we deserve. But industry veterans like these long-serving CEOs will tell you that your dream job isn’t always waiting for you the moment you step through the adulting door. It’s a journey that takes a whole lot of endurance and hardwork.

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As long as you apply the right mindset and attitude to anything in life, you’ll find yourself more motivated to give your all in any position. And what naturally follows will be recognition for your contributions.

Find out more about TSL’s internship program here.

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