So you’ve read part 1 of this series on how to get an internship, high school style. And I’m hoping that you’re in the process of finding an internship that you’re happy with or that you’ve already found an internship (Congratulations!). The question you should be asking is: “Now what?” Now that you’ve got an internship, what do you do? Well, I’ll tell you all the secrets of being a great intern, everything from how to dress to how to interact with your mentor.
We all think that we know how to dress. But the reality is we are crap at dressing for the “real world” (Please note the eye roll as I write that phrase). Mind you, I’m assuming that the “real world” is corporate America. So let me give you some tips from adults who have real jobs and some that I’ve picked up by being an intern.
Jeans are not your friends, except sometimes
You need to wear “professional” clothing. That means in a nice blazer that fits well, a nice pair of pants, and shoes that you are comfortable in but that also look good. Do not show up to the office in shorts, ever.
If you’re working at a place that’s a little more casual, you can dress a little more business casual. That means dark colored jeans or pants but you can skip the blazer. Sneakers are still a no- no but the upside is you don’t have to wear those stuffy dress shirts- polos and t-shirts are perfectly acceptable in this environment.
Keep the jewelry to a minimum. Earrings are better off as studs, small hoops, or short dangly ones. Rings are undoubtedly cute but don’t wear more than 2 or 3 at a time. Bracelets should not jangle obscenely when you’re walking. And if you have to type at all and they’re making more noise than the sound of you typing, take them off.
Facial piercings are, unfortunately, not desirable in a corporate setting. Remove your jewelry or put in retainers. If you have to keep the jewelry in, make sure the stud is tiny. The goal is to keep piercings subtle so that they’re not attracting the wrong type of attention.
The same can be said of tattoos. Keep your tattoos hidden and, if you’re thinking about adding or starting your collection, keep the tattoos small and in discrete or easy to cover areas. Again, the goal is to not attract the wrong type of attention
So now you’ve got a general gist of what to wear, but how are you supposed to act?
There’s a certain way you’re supposed to act in corporate America. You can’t just say what you want, when you want if you want to keep your internship. You have to *sigh* conform.
Talk calmly and politely and respectfully. Don’t whine – it’s annoying and childish. If you’re doing something that you don’t like, talk about it rationally and present facts.
“Like” “Uhm” are both sounds you should eliminate from your vocabulary. There filler words which indicates to people that you have no idea what you’re talking about. If you here yourself saying “uhm” or “like”, stop and take a breath. Collect your thoughts and then speak. You’ll sound more confident which is always a good thing.
People in the office are busy so make sure to keep what you have to brief but also detailed. You need to be able to get a lot of information in a few short phrases. So again, take a breath before approaching your mentor or anyone else within the company.
And by the way, don’t gossip in the office. Even if it seems like everyone else is doing it, don’t gossip in the office. It’s tacky and childish.
Again we live in a world of technology, yada yada yada. Point is, you’ll be sending emails. And you’ll probably be sending them with some frequency. Make sure you sound presentable at all times. There are a few general do’s and don’ts that I’ve heard from people:
– Use proper grammar
– Be polite and respectful
– Introduce yourself when emailing someone you’ve never emailed before.
– Example: Good afternoon, my name is Stellah and I’m so and so’s intern.
– Get to the point
– Back to that thing I said earlier – people are busy
– End with your name
– Use “text speak
– You know what I’m talking about: lol and u, etc.
– Forget to proofread an email
– A family friend of mine says that she writes drafts of emails that she edits at least twice before sending them out.
– Forget to follow up with a thank you if necessary
– If someone’s done something for you, the nice thing to do is to say thank you
– Email people at 2 in the morning
– It looks like you’re procrastinating. Honestly, this is a tip for just about anything. In the words of my roommate, “Nothing good happens after 2 am”
For the most part, you’re writing should be a polished extension of your speaking.
In order to really be good at talking and emailing in a corporate setting, you need to come to your internship prepared. That may mean a whole bunch of things. Maybe you’ll have to finish something your boss assigned you. Treat this like it’s homework rather than something on the side and you won’t forget to do it (this was my secret to dealing with internships).
But being prepared also means that you come to work ready to learn. That might mean having something to take notes on or having a set of questions. It may also mean that you’ll have to volunteer for things that may not be particularly fun. Don’t be afraid to be the intern that does the grunt work even if you have to organize files.
Also, come to work with a set of goals that you want to accomplish that day or week or month. Sit down with your mentor and discuss your ideas, find out if they’re viable things you can accomplish. If not, modify your current goals or create new ones. The goal here is that you want to come with a plan so that your mentor can see you’re taking the internship seriously rather than just using it to look good on a resume.
Those are pretty much the important things to remember when presenting yourself. Cast yourself in the best light. Make your boss see that you’re trying and that you’re putting in effort.
That’s all the wisdom I can think to impart on you wonderful people. That should give you a good springboard into the awesome world of internships. Remember though, this is my (and a few other people’s) advice on the subject. Every internship will look a little different and that might make some of this advice obsolete. See which things apply to.
I want to hear from you guys. What do you think is a tip you’re going to apply to your own internship? Do you have any other advice you’d like to give? Share in the comments.