Vic Management Interns' blog

Blog posts by Victorian Management Interns of the Australasian College of Health Service Management. Views are those of the individual authors and not those of ACHSM or management interns’ host organisations or employers.


Oscar Chaffey
Oscar Chaffey

Health Management Interns, ACHSM

10 things I wish I knew before my internship

By Ellie Searle

2nd Year Management Intern

As I come towards the end of the ACHSM internship, I have had the chance to stop and reflect on the challenges and opportunities I have experienced over the last 18 months.

Working during a pandemic meant that my projects and experiences have largely revolved around COVID. Even when they didn’t have anything to do with COVID, timelines and resources were dictated by COVID. However, the lessons learned during pandemic-time have been lessons that remain constant and applicable to everyday life. So here are the 10 things I wish I knew (or listened to) before I started

  1. It’s okay to ask questions

You’re not expected to know everything. The best way to learn is to ask questions, so ask away.

  1. Be a ‘Yes Person’

Saying yes to everything may seem daunting, especially if it takes you out of your comfort zone. But saying yes will often bring unexpected rewards. Saying yes introduces you to new people and new opportunities that you may not have known were available. So say yes to new pieces of work, say yes to networking or lunch with colleagues, offer a hand to those around you and ask about their work- listen to what they have to say and learn as much as you can. Being involved, even if you can’t always contribute the winning idea, is a personal win.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Struggling with a task and not understanding how to progress it can be very frustrating. Always ask for help rather than sitting there not knowing what’s going on. In saying that, try give it a go yourself first. Google can be your best friend. Search the computer for saved files or similar documents or pieces of work. Historical data can tell you a lot.

When you ask for help, go with an action plan or ideas to discuss. Expect help, not spoon feeding.

  1. Self-care is important, sometimes it’s okay to stop and breathe

Your health is important, don’t forget about it. There can sometimes be so much going on it’s hard to keep up. Remember to sit for a minute, breathe and think. Apps like Treat App can be great for this- with five minute at-your-desk mediations. This is a great way to give yourself thinking time. Answers don’t always come within the first minute of looking ata problem, take some pressure off yourself. Taking a break to relax also gives you time to think things through and let your creatively flow.

  1. No one knows everything- it’s about who you know and how you treat them

You’re not an expert in everything, and you don’t have to be. A lot of the time it’s about asking the right person the right question. Learn the organisation’s structure. Know where people sit and under which directorate. Health always seems to be going through re-structures, but try keep up with them. Take note of whom you meet, draw pictures, or print off the organisational structure- whatever works for you.

  1. Be a good co-worker – it’s all about relationships

Having good relationships with those around you not only makes your work life more enjoyable but makes you more effective. Take the time to say good morning to your colleagues. Corridor conversation can give you more insight on workplace culture and current projects others are working on, than mountains of reports. Having good relationships with colleagues allows you to pull in a favour with IT when your computer crashes. It can never hurt.

  1. It’s okay to be pushy sometimes

Especially in a COVID environment, it’s easy for people to get swept up in new projects and you could find yourself with projects on hold, and no one directing you to new work. During these times it’s easy to fly under the radar, but it’s important to be there and be doing something meaningful. Try to stay relevant, keep asking for work if there is nothing you can do on your own. Be creative and if you can, take initiative and plan quick win improvements that are within your scope.

  1. If there is something you are interested in don’t be afraid to say so

We all have areas of interests and areas in which we want to gain more knowledge. This is one benefit of being an intern. Organisations want to help you grow and expand your knowledge, so don’t hesitate to ask. It could be shadowing a nurse, spending a day on a unit or sitting with the finance team, joining in on a meeting or a project.

  1. Stay current

Whether it’s listening to health podcasts on the train ride into work, or reading management blogs and journals, it’s important to stay up to date with what’s going on in your area. Try to branch out and read newspapers about related topics, like politics, or organ donation or the legislative powers and decision on mandating vaccines, so you can understand the external factors influencing your organisation.

  1. Always have a Business Continuity Plan!

Have a BCP for everything, not just for the organisation, but personally too, because you never know what’s coming.



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