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Internships and other work experiences
Internships and other work experiences

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4.1 Tip 1: look back at your journal

The first thing you’ll want to do after completing your internship or work experience is reflect on the experience you’ve just had and what you have learned from it. That should help you in deciding what step to take next.

If you’ve kept a work experience journal as suggested in Week 6, this will be a great help in this process. Did you achieve your goals? Did you find the work satisfying? What surprised or challenged you?

Ask yourself what were the most and least successful elements of the experience and make a decision about whether the sector or role you gained your experience in is right for you.

This process can be challenging and it may help to find someone to go through it with. For example, if you are currently at university, a careers adviser or career coach would be helpful. Alternatively, a mentor or supervisor (academic or work related) could be a useful sounding board.

You can also use your journal to work through any decisions that you face. Activity 4 will take you through this process. You looked at quite a structured approach to decision making in Week 3 Activity 5 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . This is a more intuitive method.

Activity 4 Using a journal to make decisions

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes for this activity

Katherine (2018) suggests the following exercise for making decisions:

The next time you find yourself facing a big decision, try writing out each choice available. Underneath each choice, journal your thoughts on the following questions for each:

  1. What is your first reaction to this choice?
  2. Imagine this is the choice you’ve chosen. Visualise your life five years from now – what does it look like?
  3. Reconnect with your goal/mission in life. Does this choice bring you closer to that?
  4. Does the thought of this choice make you feel energised or drained?
  5. What information do you need to feel more comfortable with this choice?

Once you’ve done this for each potential choice, you should have a clearer idea of which way to go.

Decisions about work experience, such as choosing between different career sectors you’d like to explore or deciding which opportunity to apply for, would be ideal for this activity. Alternatively, you could consider something unrelated to your career.

If you don’t feel you are facing any decisions at the moment, another approach would be to look at a decision you made in the past. Would this activity have led to a different choice? Try it out in the box below.

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This is a good way to break down and capture your thoughts about something potentially complex and is a useful habit to get into.

Another advantage of using your journal in this way is that you can take some time to reflect. For example, you can go back to it the next day and review what you’ve written. Do you still feel the same way? Gaining a greater understanding of your decision-making processes should make it easier in the future.