Internships offer an invaluable opportunity for college students to gain work experience before being thrown into the “real world” after graduation. It can be nerve-racking to switch from the comfort of a college campus to a new work environment, but it’s important for you to make a good impression regardless. Internships are different at every company, but these are ten things all interns should remember during an internship:
1. Buy or pack a good lunch
As an intern you may not always get time for a lunch break, but you don’t want to go hungry. Avoid the awkward stomach growls by buying or bringing enough food to get you through the day. If you know you’ll be in a remote location, it may be smarter to bring a lunch instead of planning to buy one. With enough food, you will be far more productive and a lot happier.
2. Wear comfortable shoes
Lots of people throw on a pair of solid walking shoes for their commute to work, but don’t underestimate the importance of wearing comfortable shoes in the office. You don’t want to be limping around because your new, fancy work shoes are giving you blisters. When you’re buying a new work wardrobe, try to find a good balance between comfortable and professional looking loafers, flats or heels. Regardless of which shoes you buy, it’s always smart to bring band-aids just in case.
3. Be nice to everyone around you
Don’t just try to impress your manager; treat everyone in the office with the same level of respect you would give the CEO. A smile and friendly, “good morning” or “how is your day going?” can go a long way. Internships are a great networking opportunity, so take the time to get to know and learn from as many people as you can. Be sure to always say “thank you” and be appreciative to everyone!
4. You’re not expected to know everything
If you don’t know how to do something, ASK. Don’t pretend that you know what your manager is talking about if you don’t. Google can only get you so far and it will be awkward to ask after you acted like you understood. Interns are not expected to know how to do everything, but they are expected to ask questions and learn. Your manager won’t be mad if you ask, “Would you mind showing me how to…”
5. Stay professional
Even if your manager is just a few years older, you are now in a professional environment so refrain from discussing your drunken weekend escapades or prying into their personal life. You want to develop strong and, ideally, fun relationships with everyone you work with, but understand there are different types of boundaries in a work environment.
6. Bring a phone charger
…but don’t facebook stalk or text your friends all day. We live in a world that’s continuously connected and it’s almost guaranteed that your friends will shoot you texts throughout the workday. Work is not the time to text back. However, if your boss asks you to run an errand or bring materials to a client, something like Google Maps can be a lifesaver. Always have a phone charger on hand so a dead phone isn’t the reason you can’t get a job done.
7. Keep track of projects
You may be assigned ten tasks by different people, but that is not an excuse for not getting each project done. Try making a checklist for yourself every time you get a new assignment, that way you can easily make sure you don’t forget about anything. Your boss may not check up on every single project that’s been assigned to you, but you’re still expected to get the work done.
8. Stay positive and do NOT complain
As an intern, make sure that you are always an enjoyable and pleasant person to work with. Interns do get some mundane assignments, but keep perspective and recognize that your company wants you to have a good experience. They will appreciate your optimistic attitude and will hopefully want to give you work you will enjoy.
9. Take every assignment seriously
There is absolutely no excuse for typos or lazy work. No matter how boring or pointless an assignment may seem, you want to give 100% to everything you do. Show your employer that you care and that you take pride in your work.
10. Share your ideas
You were hired as an intern for a reason; companies like having interns because they offer fresh perspectives, so trust your gut and share your views. Just remember to always be polite and gracious… you don’t want to accidentally trash a project that took months of hard work.
Internships are great experiences, so do your best to make the most out of everything. Always be on time, be prepared, and make yourself available to do any work that is needed. It will all be worth it in the end. Internships can lead to future jobs and recommendations, so follow the tips above to make sure you leave a lasting, positive impression as an intern.