You don’t want to be that person who gets caught on camera doing the walk of shame, do you?
Once you start working your internship, make sure you come correct. Be on time, or better yet, be early. If you get to the office before the actual employees, people will take notice. If you routinely get there late, they may dismiss you from your gig early…permanently.
Now, when you start your internship, it’s imperative for you to learn the company dress culture. If everyone is in a shirt and tie, don’t show up in a t-shirt, jeans, and some shoes that will scuff up their floors, trust us, being the rookie is not an excuse. Your supervisor will be saltier than a bottle of Lawry’s.
Pay very close attention to this next tip: Be ready to actually work. Going above and beyond the call of duty is strongly encouraged, even if some of the staff say comments like “you know you didn’t have to do all of that…” or “you don’t have to do it right now, but…”, oh yes you do; you’re the intern, not their peer.
Some internships will have you doing the job you hope to land after college. Others will have you doing work less mind stimulating than a facebook conversation during BET’s Hip-Hop Awards. Whatever you’re assigned to do, grin like you’re being paid to do a toothpaste commercial. Several career sites warn that the quickest way to kill a good internship is to be negative. Save any complaints about work for your mama and your friends, and even mama isn’t trying to hear all of that.
When you’re not assigned anything, look for work – even if that means stepping out of the department you work in (but get permission to do so, first). It pays to show that you can adapt. As an intern, you may not be hearing what employees are saying, but trust, they’re talking about each of you – especially the trifling, lazy ones. Two of the highest qualities sought in interns but not typically spoken of is (1) a sense of urgency and (2) the ability to figure it out. These two qualities will speak volumes for your commitment level and your excitement to have the internship.
You may be young in age, but on the job you should strive to come across as mature as possible. No one wants to work with a person who acts like they still need to be burped.
As an intern, you need to study your company, learn who’s critically important, who you can tap as a mentor, and how you can build on the access you have.
Pay attention in meetings – take notes, ask questions, and look interested. Don’t pop gum in a meeting or be glued to your phone (that includes texts and BBM). Don’t even take your phone to meetings. Just because they’re called “anytime minutes” doesn’t mean you need to use them at any time. You can update your Facebook and Twitter accounts later.
Speaking of social media, watch what you say about your internship online. You never know who’s reading (see Throw Some STDs on It…), so if you have something bad to say and want to rant; buy a journal.
Instead of talking and texting your friends, try scheduling meetings with higher ups so they can remember you. Strategize. This is your career at stake, or potentially your career’s big break.
For some, simply having the company name on their resume is enough. There’s a word to describe folks like that: Unemployed.
When you have an internship, you need to be focused on showing the company you’re working for that you mean business now, so you can leave them wanting to be in business with you in the future.