The Intern’s Guide to Getting By

  Back to blog Megan Brandrup

Being new anywhere is tough. As an intern, you are often the youngest person in your office, and you may not be too sure about how things are run. Just because you have a lot of new stuff to learn does not mean that you need to panic! Use this list to help you survive your internship:

1. When someone introduces themselves to you, stand up and shake their hand. Yes, every time.

This is so important! As the intern, you will have to meet a lot of new people. Make sure that whenever someone greets you, you stand up and shake their hand. By doing this, you show respect, and you have made a new professional connection. You are supposed to use your intern experience as a way of meeting new people that may be able to help you with your future career. Showing respect and making friends with the people you work with is the easiest way to begin this process.

2. Always follow instructions, no matter how many there are or how boring they are.

Your boss took a lot of time making sure you had enough work to do, and writing out instructions for you. They’re busy enough, don’t make their jobs harder by skipping steps because you don’t feel like doing it. Plus, they will have to report back to your school about your work performance. No one wants, “LAZY,” stamped onto their college transcripts for future employers to see.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! I promise your boss does not think you are dumb.

You are here to learn! Companies that offer internships understand how important education is, and they will never discourage your questions. If you don’t understand how to do something, or you want their professional opinion on something, just ask!

4. Make sure you learn or re-learn how to properly write a business email or letter.

The intern often has to do a lot of emailing to clients. Employers often judge potential employees just on how they respond to an email. Please, please, PLEASE do not use short-hand (lol, ttyl, Wbu) because it is not only unprofessional, but it makes you look less educated. Sure, a casual text to a friend may contain some short-hand, but make sure you know the difference between appropriate and inappropriate situations to use short-hand. Also, avoid using smiley faces or excessive exclamation points. This makes you look really immature and unprofessional. Just don’t do it, Ok?

5. Invest in a pair of headphones.

There will be periods of time where you do nothing but work in solitude and the quiet gets pretty boring. Bring some headphones to work and listen to your own tunes, if your boss is cool with that, of course. This makes you happier and increases the overall quality of the work that you produce. Don’t go crazy with the volume though! Just because you like One Direction, doesn’t mean that everyone else wants to hear it.

6. Take notes, like all the time.

I spend so much time writing down notes. Steps on how to schedule payments, proper procedure for writing reports, etc. It’s very important to pay attention when your boss is telling you how to properly do something. They may expect follow-up questions, but they certainly don’t want to have to re-teach you how to do it every time you need to do it. Write it all down and tape it to the wall so you can always see it.

7. Work ahead.

If you are in charge of managing a social media account for the company you are interning for, or you have a list of work to get done, work ahead. Turning work in early always looks impressive. It also shows initiative and that you aren’t afraid of going the extra mile.

8. Learn people’s names and greet them when you see them.

This is another excellent way to build professional relationships. By making connections in the area of work you want to pursue, you are helping yourself in the future. Plus, it’s always nice to say hello to people.

9. Learn how to carry an actual conversation.

My generation basically spends their whole day texting and on social media. However, your boss, most likely does not spend his free time that way. Being able to hold a conversation is impressive, especially when your boss knows that you would rather just text him your business proposal.

10. Relax!

You already got the internship, so it’s time to start actually learning something! I can guarantee that no boss has ever wanted to see their intern fail at their job. No one is out to get you, so just chill and focus on what is most important. A big list of tasks is nothing to panic about, just tackle it one-by-one. Your boss knows that you are only a human, and they don’t expect you to finish everything in an hour.