Internship: training before a marathon

No one gets up in the morning and runs an entire marathon without previous training. It takes a long period of constant exercise to reach this goal. The same holds true with regard to the job market: it is highly unlikely that your first job will be a leading position in a renowned company. You have to take small steps in order to reach this goal some day. The first step is your academic education: school or university give you the theoretical framework and knowledge you need in your job field. However, no one has ever won a marathon after having only read some books on the right running technique. Practical experience and training are essential, and this is what an internship can provide you with.

Whether you complete an internship or train for a marathon, you will pass through different stages.

At first, everything will be new and exciting. Both running and doing an internship are exhausting endeavours because you are not used to the physical and mental strain in the beginning, but the positive aspects outweigh the negative ones. You are curious to learn new things and eager to make progress, but maybe you are a little bit confused because you are not yet completely clear about what your tasks are. When it comes to running, you might not have found the right technique yet.

Sooner or later you will move on to the second phase. This is the critical period, when many people give up or believe that their goal is not worth fighting for any more. Running has now become a habit. Unlike in the first few days or weeks, you no longer make big progress , but at the same time you are still far away from being able to run a marathon. The same might happen in a work environment, when the initial excitement has worn out and a certain routine has developed. Now it is important not to forget how much progress you have already made. A few weeks ago you were not sporty at all or you had little practical experience in your field of study. It might help you to make a list of the small steps you are taking. For example, take notes whenever you manage to run a few metres more than the previous day, you find a new solution to a problem or you learn a new word or phrase. Soon you will realise that those small achievements accumulate and disprove your belief that you do not make progress. While you look back at your achievements, do not lose sight of your goal. Remind yourself why you began with the exercise or internship in the first place.

When you have overcome the difficult second phase, your goal seems much closer, but in order to reach it you still need to make an effort. This will boost your motivation and you will come to love your work or exercise again because you are now confident in what you are doing. You know how to handle your tasks and solve problems. There will still be bad days when things go wrong or you do not live up to your expectations, but they will not discourage you because you are not as quick to doubt your skills as in the beginning.

Now you are ready for the big day: the marathon, or the job interview.
Remember all the hard work or exercise you invested in these past weeks, and most importantly: be confident. In this way you will eventually cross the finish line, or in other words: manage to get your dream job.

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