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Ten commandments for a Swedish internship

Ten commandments for a Swedish internship
The internship looked amazing on paper, but in real life you drag your feet to the office every day... fret not, The Local has ten top tips for making sure you and your boss get the best out of your internship in Sweden.

Many of us have done them. On paper they sound great. “I got an internship with so and so!” we tell our friends excitedly. But what’s next. You’re not getting paid (hopefully you’re getting academic credit) and your boss is too busy to even remember your name… some internships are downright depressing.

But what makes an internship hurrah-worthy rather than horrible?

“You might get very different answers from the intern and the employer if you asked what the key to a good internship is,” Ellinor Rindevall, a CV coach at a Swedish trade union, told The Local.

IN PICTURES: Top ten tips for a Swedish internship

Rindevall herself had an internship which she was mostly happy with, and contributed to her finding work afterwards.

“I do know it’s an art form to get it right. My best advice for a well-spent internship is to really figure out what you are aiming for. Why do you want this specific internship? Why are you in this specific place?” she added.

“Make sure your supervisor knows what you want and create a plan for your work and time there.”

Once you get to the office, you may be nervous, excited, even scared. So what to do?

We’ve rounded up our ten top tips for interns. These are flavoured by the fast-paced and rather macho editorial environment, but are applicable basically anywhere in any Swedish office.

There are some basic rules, of course, that don’t even need to be written down… or do they? It goes without saying that looking the part is what the Swedes call “A och O” (the fundamentals) of basic etiquette. You don’t need fancy outfits or branded gear, but get a feel for the dress code at the office and fit in.

Many Swedes are preternaturally adverse to conflict, which means your boss may not be good at communicating what he or she thinks you need to get better or quicker at.

“If you have a clear idea of what you want to get from your internship, then speak with your supervisor who will hopefully organize your work accordingly,” Rindevall told The Local.

“Ask, ask, and ask again. Show what you’re working on. Ask for feedback often.”

So ask. Just ask politely. Make your boss’s task of managing you easier. It’s called “managing up”, or getting the best out of your boss. It’s not easy, because frankly why should you have to manage your manager, but it is effective and it sets a nice tone.

So ask what you can do better next time. But first, follow our ten internships commandments…

Ann Törnkvist

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