Maximise Your Internship



So you’ve landed yourself an internship? Congratulations!


With one foot in the door and well ahead of the competition, make sure that you use this opportunity to its fullest potential! 

Today, we talk with Travis Harvie, Manager – Learning Resources and Systems at Builders Academy Australia, about what he looks for in an intern and how to make the most of your internship. 

Builders Academy are long standing partners of Gradability and as such, Travis can give you a real insight into what makes an intern memorable. 


Find out how to: 


  • Get noticed 
  • Make your mark 
  • Leave a lasting impression on your Host Employer 
  • Get the most out of your internship 
  • Maximise your chances of future employment  


Additional Resources 

As discussed on the show, check out this short video from Simon Sinek on asking questions and not being afraid to be the stupidest person in the room: 


If you are enjoying this podcast, hit the like and subscribe buttons on your favourite Podcast App below, so you get updates on all our shows. 


Tune in again next week, for a new episode of The Employability Podcast, brought to you by Gradability.


Prefer reading over listening? 


Here is the full transcript of this episode:


00:00 David: You’re listening to the Employability podcast, where graduation meets employment. During this series, we uncover the good, the bad and the ugly in terms of being more employable and ultimately getting hired.

Hard truths. No bullshit, no filters. Just the information you really need to kickstart your career. Presented by Gradability. In today’s episode, I catch up with Travis Harvie, Manager of Learning Systems at Builders Academy, Australia.

Australia’s leading provider of building and construction training, offering nationally accredited qualifications for the building and construction industry, including trades, building and construction management, sales, interior design and work, health and safety.

We discuss how Builders Academy use their internship model to help young professionals start their career, the importance of making a good impression on your supervisor, and debunk some myths about what Australian business culture really is. We hope you enjoy this show.


01:10 So, Travis, tell me, why is it so important for Builders Academy to take on interns?


01:15 Travis: Yeah, great question. I’ve been in the intern space or working with interns for over four years now, and we feel that it’s an important part of what we do as a business. Our background, both through our CEO and myself, is in education.


We started our careers actually delivering training to international students, and so we have a background and understanding of what it’s like to deliver training to a student. So we feel that it’s really important that we can keep that legacy going and have an understanding of if you’ve got international students that need placement, what can we do to help those students in their career and in that placement opportunity?

01:55 And obviously, it’s a great thing for Builders Academy to have students as part of our team. It brings in fresh ideas, fresh knowledge. We’ve got interns that are coming across that have a fantastic array of experience from a theoretical point of view, and we want to grow that a little bit further and provide them the opportunity to put that into practice into a live environment.

So we feel that they can bring a lot to the table in ideas and things that they had previously learned. And then we bring obviously the opportunity to the table as well for them to be able to put that into place and into practice and grow and learn from that.


02:34 David: I suppose with a lot of interns, one of the reasons why people take an internship is because they don’t have experience and they’re looking for that experience. From your perspective, what are the qualities you are looking for in an intern when it comes to choosing them?

Because again, experience isn’t something that they’ve got. So how do you choose? What are you choosing on?


02:50 Travis: Yeah, absolutely and a 100% correct. Experience isn’t something that a lot of interns do actually have. And what I mean by experience is experience in the field. They might have experience in other areas, they might have part time jobs that they’re currently working in that gives them experience in customer service and things like that.

So those skills are transferable. So, what I look for in an intern is I look at their CV and have a look at, well, apart from just the technical knowledge, what other interests do they have and what other experience do they have?

Whether it be working in a supermarket, stocking shelves, or customer service in a restaurant or whatever it is, because that is still skills that they can leverage and use in business. And what I mean by that is, can they talk and communicate with customers, things like that.

So for what we look for, I can teach the technical skill of the role, but I can’t teach also the willingness for an intern to learn. So what I look for in an interview when I’m speaking to the student is, are they enthusiastic? Have they taken the time to do some research about the business?


03:52 The first key question I always lead with is what do you know about Builders Academy? What do you know about what we do? And that gives me a true indication on has the candidate taken the time to review the business? Are they serious about the role and what do they know about what we do?


And sometimes it’s amazing. They give me a full brief. I’m like, wow, that’s amazing. You nearly know more than what I do about the business. So it’s really fantastic to see. And that gives me a good indication on the seriousness of the intern and have they taken the due diligence in that position.


04:26 David: It’s something that we’ve talked about before in terms of that sort of preparedness or the preparation that an internal potential intern does in terms of understanding of the company. And when we last spoke, we talked about the fact that you can have interns turn up and not know anything about the company or not know anything about the person they’re meeting.


And that’s a bit like trying to run 100 meters race, but tying your laces together before you start. What are the sort of qualities or what are the must do’s I suppose from an internal perspective that you’ve got in terms of making sure that they don’t stumble at that starting block?


04:54 Travis: Yeah, sure. So what I can suggest is obviously do their due diligence in who they’re going to meet. So LinkedIn is a powerful thing. You obviously know who you’re going to be interviewing. So, any interview, look up the profile, have an understanding of who is it that you’re going to meet, whether it’s one or two people typically, you’ll know, coming into the interview and read up a little bit about what they do, their experience, etc, so you can always leverage that in the interview.


Also, presentation of how you present yourself in the interview. I’ve had interns turn up for an interview suit and tie right the way through to turning up with ripped jeans and a hoodie.

Okay, so obviously know the market or know the corporate space that you’re going to go into. Now, yes, I don’t expect an intern to turn up in a suit and a tie, but I don’t also expect someone to turn up with ripped jeans and a hoodie and a beanie on their head.

05:47 So, how you present yourself does portray a level of professionalism in yourself as well. So I think. Just take the time to prepare yourself for any interview, whether it be an internship interview or going further on in your career. How you present yourself is important.


06:02 David: You talked before about transferable skills and how even though you don’t have the actual work experience, you might be able to demonstrate transferable skills. One of the things we deal with students and that we get is they talk about, well, no one really cares about the fact that I drive an Uber or stack shelves at calls.


You touched on it before about some of the attributes that you’re looking for. Can you just elaborate a little bit more? If I was an Uber driver, for example, in your view, what are the things that I can put in my CV that actually help enhance my prospects at Builders Academy or any other opportunity?

06:34 Travis: Yeah, absolutely. And Uber driver is a perfect example. There’s a lot of skills that you’re going to have as an Uber driver that would be transferable. Dealing with customers, so you have to be able to communicate with customers in a face-to-face manner, obviously, using technology through your mobile phone, apps, all that sort of stuff, it’s showing transferable skills there.

Dealing with conflict is a big one as well. So if you’ve got a grumpy passenger in the car, and you have to be able to talk them down or communicate with them, all of these skills are transferable. Because if you are in a work environment, you have to be able to communicate with your peers or colleagues.

You have to be able to communicate with customers. So at Builders Academy, we have our interns working directly in live systems, and that’s something that I think we take very seriously. We take an internship very seriously.

07:26 Three months is a big commitment on anyone’s behalf and a time commitment. And so we want to make sure that an intern gets the most out of the internship that they can. All right? So if you’ve got those skills, you can transfer them into industry.

So what I’m trying to hit home is customer service communication, at BAA, you’re working with live data, working with live students. Our interns are communicating with our customers via email. They’re on the phone. Our interns also provide live IT support.


So they actually jump into a live class and if a student is having maybe some technical trouble with their microphones not working or whatever it might be, they are live in there talking to those students.

So whether you can talk to a customer in an Uber car or talk to a customer in a live environment, it’s still a skill that is important. So, if you’ve got nothing on your CV at all, it doesn’t give us a great deal of or anything to play with saying okay, apart from your Uni degree, what else have you got that you can bring to the table?

08:25 David: And so I think it’s a really important point because at the end of the day, regardless of the role that you’re in, you can have the greatest technical skills in the world. I remember years ago when I started out at Gradability, we worked with a lot of accountants who had great technical skills, but didn’t have the ability to communicate that.

And at the end of the day, if you can’t communicate the solution or what you’re actually trying to achieve, then it doesn’t matter if you’ve got the greatest technical skills, you’re just not going to get that ability to air with your customer.


And at the end of the day, whether it’s an internal or an external person, they’re all customers. So I think it’s a really valuable point in terms of the soft skills or the communication skills that we’re talking about here.

One of the things that we understand from a cultural perspective is that we get interns, and certainly some of the interns we provide to you. And certainly in Australia from overseas. And English isn’t their first language, so in communication and there’ll be some cultural issues that they might sort of encounter in terms of the ability to want to speak up in a meeting or to raise issues with a manager. How do you guys enhance their experience with that or help them with that?


09:24 Travis: Absolutely that’s a good question. To start with this one, we’re a very multicultural business and we pride ourselves on that fact that we have people from many different countries and cultures around the world working and bringing together in the environment.

So, we take that quite seriously. So, we try to include an intern in everything that we do. We treat an intern like they are a normal staff member and that’s how it should be. So, any get-togethers, any meetings, any staff functions, whatever it might be, we say, “Hey, you are in all rights a staff member right now, so you come along, we want you to experience exactly what it’s like to be in a corporate environment and what it’s like to be in a business, working in Australia as an example.”


So if we have do like biggest morning tea, we sometimes do, hey, bring a plate from your country and at lunch we’ll all share it. Just things that we can do to show inclusiveness in the workplace I think is really important and key there. We have daily meetings as well.


10:26 So, every day we have a catch up with the team and say hey, how you going? It can be just a general chat as well. It’s really interesting to see the life cycle and how an intern grows in three months. It’s really remarkable from first day or bit timid, bit quiet, doesn’t really speak up to the end, making jokes, having fun and that’s what I try and instill in my team.

And yes, you’re there to do a work function, but if you’re not enjoying yourself at work then what are you there for? So, I want to make sure that my team enjoy themselves and have a bit of fun. That you can have a laugh, you can have a chat, but if there’s work to be done, there’s work to be done.

But creating an inclusive environment I think is really important and making sure that that comes across with the interns and that they feel comfortable putting them at ease because anyone that goes into any new job is going to be nervous.

Regardless of if you’re an intern or a fulltime staff member, there’s always the apprehension of the unknown. Making them feel comfortable I think is really important.


11:23 David: Yeah, I think clearly you guys do a really good job at that. And a lot of the hosts that we have go out of the way to make our interns feel comfortable and to make sure that they understand that for a start, you’re taking on somebody for a twelve-week period that you are not getting paid to take them on.

You are actually giving up your time and mentoring them to make sure that they get the opportunity. And I think if you’re an intern listening to this, one of the things to one understand is that when you do go into an internship, that company is committing to actually helping develop you, helping give you opportunities.

And one of the things that we sometimes hear is interns turn up and they just go sit in the corner. Don’t want to get involved because of that timidness. At the end of the day, whether it’s an internship that goes for twelve weeks and twelve weeks isn’t a very long time, or whether you’re going to your first role, it is really important to get out, put yourself out there, because otherwise you’re not actually learning, you’re not actually going to really achieve very much in that.


12:11 Do you have any advice on how someone can do it, given that it’s not necessarily natural for a lot of people to come into a new environment and go, “Well, I’ve got twelve weeks, I’ve got to make an impact.”

12:19 Travis: Yeah, it’s a very good point, and as you said, three months goes like a blink of an eye. By the time that you start, you’re undertaking your training. And all of a sudden it’s like, oh my goodness, where did the time go?

So all I can suggest is, tips is, be willing to maybe step out of your comfort zone. And like you said, it’s not something that is naturally easy to do, but make yourself known. So, in a meeting, if you’ve got an idea, be more than willing to speak up and say, “Hey, the way that you’re doing this, have you thought about doing it this way?”

And sometimes we’ve had an intern come in and say, we’ve trained them, hey, this is how we do a certain task. And then they said, well, have you thought about doing it this way? I’m like, “Oh no, we didn’t think of that, thank you, that’s awesome.”

13:00 And then we look at that and then maybe it’s an improvement in our processes, and that’s what it’s all about. And that’s where I said at the start, it’s a win-win scenario.


It’s a win for the intern coming in, getting a placement with that organization, but it’s a win for the business as well. And that’s the way that we see it very seriously, is a lot of interns have fantastic technical knowledge, and to be able to say, “Hey, I’ve got this great idea I’ve learned at uni, or whatever it might be, have you thought about doing it that way?”

And it’s like, wow, that’s really improved business process and made it a big difference to business. So, all I can say is, yes, be willing to take that step, speak up, and there might be a reason that it has to be that way, but at least that you’ve raised the point, and putting your foot forward is important.

13:44 David: It’s something that we talk about at Gradability as well, whenever we get a new person starting, a new team member starting, is to say, “Look, one of the things that you bring, which nobody else is bringing, is the fact that you’ve got fresh eyes, you’re actually coming in without preconceived ideas, you’re coming in with the ability to look at a problem and go, is this the best way to do it?”


Because I think the most dangerous words a business can use are, this is just how we’ve always done it. And that’s the advantage that if an intern comes in with fresh eyes, with the ability to look at a problem in a different way and as you’re saying, at times there are very good reasons why things are done a certain way and that doesn’t mean that they can’t change.

14:20 But there might be a reason why things have to be a certain way, whether it’s compliance or regulation or whatever it is. But I think the important message there is that if you do go into a new business and you do identify an area where you think there might be improvements, there’s no harm in speaking out as long as it’s done in a respectful manner or looking for a solution and not just raising issues.

And I think that’s a really important message for anyone that’s listening to this to go, “People want your opinion, they want to know what you have to say, and they don’t want you to just sit in a corner and stare at the wall and nod, because that doesn’t do anyone any good.”

14:47 Travis: Absolutely. And as you said, if you don’t speak up, then unfortunately you’re not forgotten, but you’re not remembered if it makes sense. And what I mean by that is we’ve done a lot of shifts through in the internship program, hundreds.

And I would have loved to say to a lot of the interns, “Hey, I’d love to give you a position.” We can’t always guarantee a position to a student, and we never do. But we’re fortunate enough to have a lot of our students that did an internship with us actually gain employment with Builders Academy, which we see as a great success in the partnership, that a student can come in and do an internship with us, and then there is the option for employment at the end.


15:26 But if you don’t speak up, if you don’t put yourself out there, that opportunity might not be sitting there for you. And I’ve had students that have done an internship with us. There wasn’t a position available at the time, but two months later, a position became available, and I went, oh, I remember, this student was fantastic.


Unfortunately, at the time that they were here, there wasn’t something available, but they put their foot forward, they said the right things, they were energetic, they provided ideas to the team. I gave them a call and said, “Hey, do you want a position?” And I remembered them.


And that’s what it’s if you sit in the corner and don’t say anything, unfortunately life gets in the way, business gets in the way, and you don’t remember those people, but the ones that put their foot forward in a memorable, you go, “Well, let me try and reach out to them and help them out.”

16:11 David: And at the end of the day let’s be honest, at the end of the day, the only reason you’re doing an internship is because you’re looking for an opportunity to get employed. Whether that’s with the host employer directly or whether it’s through somebody else.

The end goal is to use that experience to be able to secure your first paid role. And if you waste that time, and I’m going to use the word waste, because ultimately you’re sitting there for twelve weeks and not putting yourself out there and just going through the motions, then you might as well not do an internship because what’s the point?

A, you’re taking up space, you’re wasting time. And at the end of the day, if you go and ask for a reference from that, your host is going to say, well, actually, you didn’t make an impact, you did make an impression on me. So in terms of making that count, and it’s twelve weeks, it sounds like a long time. It’s not a long time at all to be able to make an impact, or not so much to make an impact, but you need to make an impact within those three months.


17:04 You talked before about sort of culture and getting involved in the team and with the business and how you try and get people involved with your team in terms of meetings, things like morning teas and socials.

One of the great misconceptions that a lot of graduates have around Australian business culture is that it means I have to go to the pub with somebody and I have to have a beer with somebody. Now, we’ve had this conversation before. In terms of that’s not necessarily true, like, yes, you don’t have to go, and that’s actually a fallacy to a certain extent. Do you have a message to anyone listening who thinks that that’s still the case?

17:33 Travis: No, definitely not at all. That’s more of what I see, the misconception of a tradey role. You know, the traders always go to the pub on a Friday afternoon. But for us, definitely not. And for, I dare say for a lot of businesses out there at the moment, the knock off drinks aren’t a requirement at BAA.

We don’t really do them. I can’t speak to every industry either, but I don’t see that being the be all, end all, “Oh, I didn’t go to a drink, therefore I’m not going to go get a job.” Definitely not at all.

18:04 David: It’s a very dated view of what the Australian business culture is, or was. I think it has been around for a long time, especially with a lot of businesses now being working remotely and not having that opportunity, which we’ll touch on in a minute.

But I think just from a sort of cultural perspective, I think we can call it here that’s a fallacy and it should be consigned to those realms, but let’s just touch on that element of sort of remote working.

And from an intern’s perspective, how would an intern demonstrate their contributions if they’re not actually face-to-face, if they’re not actually in person with the business?

18:34 Travis: Absolutely. Look, it’s something that we’ve had to live with over the last couple of years. And to be honest, I can’t see moving forward, getting back to five days a week, personally, myself, I enjoy being in the office, I enjoy being around people, but who knows where we’re going to end up.

But in the foreseeable future, I can’t see a five day ongoing staff in the office. It’s going to be a hybrid. And so the skills that you learn, I guess all you’ve learned through your studies probably has been in a hybrid model as well over the last couple of years.

What does that mean to how do you make an impact is when you have the opportunity to restaff as we’re looping back to before, speak up in the meetings, don’t be somebody that’s just sitting there and not being engaging in the conversation.

My big pet hate is if you’re in a meeting and have your webcam off, I think that is a massive disconnect. So, be willing and being prepared to say, “Okay, I’m going to be in a meeting.” Putting your webcam on is showing that you’re engaging in the conversation as well.”

19:41 So if any of my staff join a meeting, they know very well that they better be ready and have the webcam on, because in a face to face meeting, obviously you can see the person and have that conversation.

And as we know, body language is a massive component of communication that’s been noted. It’s more so than verbal communication, in many aspects. So if you turn your webcam off, you’re losing a massive chunk of the communication piece with your audience.

20:03 David: I think it’s something like 58% of your perception is formed by visual cues rather than verbal cues. I find that the webcam thing very interesting because, you know, when we first moved to a Zoom sort of world two years ago, the Dark Ages, one of the things we got push back from with the team was, “Look, I don’t want to have my webcam on because I don’t want people to be looking at me.”

To be really clear, it’s not a fashion show. No one’s looking at you and judging you for how you appear, how you look, but you need to have that camera so you can actually understand, look, if the person has got a confused look on their face or if they’re smiling about something, those visual cues play a really big part.

No one’s actually looking at you to go, “Oh, wow, that’s an interesting outfit.” If they are, they’re doing it anyway when you’re face-to-face. So, it’s something that you need to get over, I think, or people need to get over in terms of the webcam is there just so that there’s the ability to have that little bit more of a connection rather than to be assessing you for any of those things.

21:00 You talked about speaking up and there’s a way to speak up and there’s a way to speak up in a way that gets your attention, but there’s also there’s a very fine line between speaking for the sake of speaking and speaking because you have something to say.

We have experienced it from time to time as people who go into a meeting or I have to say something, so I’m just going to say what I can and not make any sense as the whole, you know, empty vessels make the most noise type thing.

What’s your advice for an intern or someone starting out who’s looking to want to make an impact, but not sure how to balance that out?

21:27 Travis: What I’d say is in the meeting, one thing is to obviously look for the… if you haven’t got your webcam on, it’s going to be difficult, but, look for the break in the conversation as well. Look for the visual cue.

In the meeting or when I run a meeting and it’s going to be varying from business to business, but I always go around the table and say, “Okay, Peter, what do you think?”

Gagan, what do you think? Blah, blah, blah, etc, etc. So, I try and prompt that conversation piece out of my staff in a meeting as well. But what I can say is if there’s a topic that you want to talk about, wait for a pause in the conversation, say, “Actually, do you mind if I… I’ve got an idea on that…”


22:06 Or whatever it is, and making sure it’s meaningful, as you’ve said, to the topic, not just for the sake of saying, “Hey, I want to talk about something.” But think about what you’re going to talk about. If some of the software, depending on what you’re using, you can press raise your hand if you’re not getting noticed or you’re not sure when to interject.

Usually that will give someone the visual cue saying, oh, David, you got something to say on the topic, anything that you want to talk about, et cetera, et cetera as well.

22:30 David: Yeah, and I think if you’re starting out in your career and you’re a bit less experienced, it can be quite intimidating to speak in a meeting, typically, if you’ve got senior executives in there.

What I would suggest for anybody, I suppose, is write your notes down and take notes during the meeting so that you can actually put down what you want to ask, and then it helps you articulate what your message is. So, you don’t just speak up and panic and then not be able to actually communicate what you’re trying to put across.

22:54 Travis: And with the notes, just taking that, the next step, absolutely is, if you’ve taken some notes and maybe there was something that was unknown in the meeting, well, why don’t you take the initiative, do some research, and then communicate back to the team.

And that shows initiative and that’s really key as well. So there might be a problem that we go, oh, gee, I don’t really know how to solve that problem. Take the time, go out of the meeting, go, “All right, great, I’m going to take that as an opportunity here and go, what is the problem? What could be some solution pieces? What can I bring to the business as an option?”

And then the next meeting go either before the meeting, ask to put it as an agenda item in the meeting, depending on how official the meeting is, obviously, or just say, oh, by the way, you know, in the last meeting we had XYZ as a problem. I’ve gone out, done some research and this is what I think could be a solution and that might be, wow, that’s awesome, how good is that? An intern’s taking the initiative and that makes you memorable, if you know what I mean.

23:47 David: And I think the other sort of element of that is also not being afraid to ask questions. With our society, there is this almost a sense of don’t ask questions, it’s better to remain quiet and not be thought of as a fool that asked a question.

But I actually think it’s quite the opposite. Ask the question because more often than not, if you’re not sure about something, you’re going to find that there’s going to be more than just you in that room who doesn’t know what’s going on.

There’s a really good two minute video from Simon Sinek which we’ll put in the show, notes on “Asking Questions and Not Being Afraid to be the Stupidest Person in the Room”, I think is what it’s called. And I think it’s a really valuable, really powerful tool to just say, just ask the question, don’t ask the bleeding obvious.

If you’re supposed to know it and it’s really obvious, don’t do that. But if you’re not sure, you need clarification. And I think particularly for an intern or for a junior member starting out, whether you’re in a meeting or in a general work scenario, if you’re not sure, you have to ask for clarification rather than spend 2 hours, two weeks working on a project and then find out actually, I got it wrong because I didn’t ask a question at the outset.

24:46 Travis: That’s key and I can’t raise the importance of that. So really hit the nail on the head there is that ask the question. Nothing worse than spending time on a project, as you just mentioned, and especially for us, we’re working on live data in the system and probably for a lot of businesses out there as well.

And if you’re changing records or making changes, live in the system to try and unpack that. If you haven’t understood 100% the task at the start and then you’ve gone ahead and done two days’ worth of work or a day’s worth of work or even two hours’ worth of work, whatever it might be, to then unscramble the egg is sometimes harder than putting it together.

25:21 David: Yeah. And there’s nothing worse from a management perspective when you think, do you understand the assignment, do you understand what you have to do – yeah, absolutely. And then two weeks, two days later, or three days later, whatever it is, you get given this and you go, “This is completely not what I’ve asked you to do, what’s going on?”

And certainly, I’ve had that happen on a number of occasions, as you’re saying, it’s already done. You wasted that time, and you might have a deadline, or you almost definitely have a deadline, because, you know, in this world, everyone’s got deadlines, and you can’t go back and redo that. That just creates more angst, more frustration.

25:53 So, again, sometimes that clarification early on, not sometimes, getting that clarification early on is really important. And you shouldn’t be afraid to ask a question. You shouldn’t be afraid to go, “Look, I’m not sure, help me out…”


26:06 Travis: Absolutely. And look, we understand not just for an internship, for any new staff member doing a new task for the first time is the unknown. So people do make mistakes, and that’s being human. But not taking the time to ask the question when you could have asked a question that leads to mistake is the frustration.

26:24 David: And in terms of making mistakes, at the end of the day, if you’re going into an internship, then there’s an understanding that you are an intern. You’re not going to have all the answers. So you do have that ability.

You do have that mandate almost to actually ask questions, because an employer that is taking you on as an intern knows that they’re committing to mentoring you, and they’re committing to developing you from a learning perspective.

So that is the perfect opportunity to be able to ask questions, the perfect time to be able to go look with impunity, “I don’t understand this – can I get some guidance and show me how so I can do it.”

There’s a very big difference between getting clarification so you can do something and asking a question, putting your hands up in the air, saying, I don’t know what to do, you do it for me. In terms of just talking about the internet, we’ve touched on a few of these already.

What do you consider to be absolute must dos from an intern’s perspective, like, what does an intern have to do that is nonnegotiable?

27:16 Travis: Must-dos, all right, so one is communication is key as part of the internship, and nothing more frustrating than perfect example, you’re feeling unwell,

make sure that you provide as much notice to the host company. That you’re unwell. There’s nothing worse than you’re due to to start at nine and 11:00 o’clock, you’re ringing the host company saying, “Oh, by the way, I’m not coming in today.”

We’re concerned for your well-being. We might have to reach out to you or reach out to whoever your emergency contact or whatever it might be, to be able to say, where are you? There’s the wellbeing aspect plus also the professionalism of that.

So I guess communication within the group. Second must-do would be willingness to learn is really important as well. Don’t go into the internship with your glass already  full. Thinking that you know everything because you’ve got all the theoretical knowledge and that’s key, you’re here to learn.

28:09 Yes, you’ve probably got a wealth of knowledge in the aspects of the theoretical aspects of the task, but coming into the internship, how you apply that will be different from business to business. So, having the glass half full analogy there, that you’re willing to take on and learn from that I think is really important.

And as we’ve touched on as well, willingness and ability to speak up and make yourself known is pretty key as well.

28:38 David: I think those are all applicable not just for an intern, but also very clearly just through your professional career. The key one in that is willingness to learn, regardless of whether you’re an intern or whether you’re a Chief Executive Officer, whatever. Along that whole spectrum, you’ve got to have, I think they call it now a growth mindset.

But you’ve got to be willing to learn from anybody because that’s a crucial part of your career. Otherwise the day you stop learning is the day you die. In terms of don’t dos, are there any absolute don’t dos?

29:05 Travis: Yeah. All right, so I’ve got a couple of ones. So, we’ve had students that in the introduction fall asleep. So, obviously paying attention in meetings, be in the meeting. So, it’s very easy to get distracted, especially if it’s a remote meeting and you’re not in the same room.

If you’ve got two screens running, don’t have YouTube on one screen and the meeting on the other. So, if there’s a meeting or a training session or whatever it is, be engaged in that, and that shows that you are part of the team. I think that’s probably a key one.

29:45 David: I think the big thing with that, which a lot of people miss particularly remotely, and when you’re on webcams, is people think that it no one’s necessarily paying attention.

The fact is, when you’ve got a screen, that’s the screen that you’re focused on, and you see the people that are on that screen, the worst thing you can do, I think, is to get a text message or to start checking your phone, because it’s really obvious.

30:02 Travis: Absolutely.

30:03 David: And full disclosure, I got called out on this yesterday in a meeting where someone was talking to me, and I got a message, switched over and looked at it, and I got told, are you paying attention?

I’m like, “Oh, damn it.” I had to apologize and say, “Look, I’m sorry.” Because I call people out on it, and it was really obvious because there were three of us in this meeting, and I just looked down and got sprung.

So it happens to all of us. The same thing I would say, is in face-to-face meetings, put your phone away. Don’t have your phone out on the desk or on the table. We generally, when we have meetings at Gradability, we have a no-phone rule, so the mobiles have to be put away under the desk, wherever, so it can’t distract you.

And I know there are ways around this, because people have WhatsApp and those other things on their desktop as well, that’s just not on.

30:46 Travis: Yeah, I agree. Just be in the moment and pay attention is key there.


30:51 David: And just to wrap up, if you had one tip that you’d give to an intern or someone’s looking to start out, what would it be?

30:57 Travis: Good question. All right. Tip for an intern to start out. So, I’d say, do your research on the business, as I mentioned at the start, have an understanding of what they do and what are you looking for out of an internship as well, and be upfront about that.

And you’ve got to be realistic about what you’re going to get out of the internship and where you want to be. So I always ask in an interview, in three years’ time, where do you want to be? What do you want to achieve?

And usually they say, “I want to be a manager of a company, or I want to be running all the networking of the whole organization…” You’ve got to be realistic on you’re doing an internship for three months. You’ve got to start somewhere, and you might have to start on a lower tier than what you think you want to end up in, but it’s a foot in the door.

And you’ve got to look at that opportunity as, hey, I’ve got all this fantastic theoretical knowledge as I keep harping on, but I have never put it into practice. So get your foot in the door and then grow from there.

31:54 So I think expectations on where you start to where you want to be and how you’re going to achieve that is important.

32:01 David: Yeah, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

32:03 Travis: Absolutely.

32:04 David: And I think we do well to remember that, we all have a very long career ahead of ourselves. And if you’re starting out at 20 and you don’t retire until your 60s, that’s 40 years. It’s a very long time to get to where you need to get to, and you don’t need to get there tomorrow, and you do need runs on the board to get there.

Travis, look, it’s been a real pleasure catching up with you, as usual. Thanks very much for your time. And I think there’s some great advice there for our interns and for anyone who’s looking to start an internship or anyone looking to start their career.

So, thanks very much for your time. And to everyone out there, thanks very much for listening. And just remember, keep on keeping on and control the Controllables.

You have been listening to the Employability podcast presented by Gradability. If you would like more information about today’s topics, please check out the show notes or visit A reminder to subscribe on your favourite podcast app so you don’t miss an episode.

I’m David Phua. Until next time, remember to control the Controllables.





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