Internships are interesting. You’re paid in the magical currency of opportunity and expected to work as hard as someone who makes tenure. I don’t know. Maybe that’s too cynical. Whatever.
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably an intern in Washington, DC. And if you’re an intern—well, I know you want to ace your internship. Not many places accept opportunity in exchange for goods and services, and you need to make the most of this whole “no money” situation. Gotta get your boss to like you so you can #network to raise your #networth. Am I right, ladies?
So that’s the purpose of this post, to instruct you on how to ace your internship!
1. Know what to expect.
As an intern, you won’t be doing anything too glamorous. You’ll likely be doing menial tasks to help out around the office, like making copies or organizing meetings. These won’t be super fun or exciting, but you’ll get your toes wet in the industry. And we all know how valuable experience is.
If you go into the internship with realistic expectations, you’ll have more positive experience overall. I promise!
2. Make connections quickly.
Big, scary corporate types have a reputation for talking down to their interns or treating them like dirt. Sometimes this is true. Sometimes it isn’t. People can be jerks sometimes. We all know this.
However, if you gain your boss’s trust and get to know them on a personal level early on, you’ll likely get fewer super boring/awful tasks. You’ll make a contact in the industry and possibly even a mentor.
Mentors are cool.
3. Look around.
Every office, every school, every place—they all have their own cultures. Pay attention to the culture of your office. Do people talk behind each other’s backs? Do they whisper when others are on the phone? Do they smile? Do they contribute to office luncheons or things of the like?
Note what your coworkers do and mirror them! People are likelier to regard you positively if you act like they do.
This may sound small and unnecessary. But doing this will help you stand out against the other interns in your office, which is generally a good thing.
(It’s only bad if you stand out for something terrible like spilling coffee on the CEO’s laptop.)
4. Work at work.
Groundbreaking advice here, I know. But think about it for a second.
You’re at work. You shouldn’t be perusing social media (unless that’s part of your job) or texting friends. You may believe that you can get your work done and be social at the same time. I get it.
But here’s the thing, kid. Sometimes what you think doesn’t matter. At all. Your boss has power over you, and they likely believe that you can’t work and be social simultaneously.
I just strongly advise you do what your boss wants you to do. You’ll ace your internship if you do that. ;P
5. Work seriously.
In high school and university, if you messed up your work, you paid the price. No one else paid the price for you. But your job isn’t like that at all. If you mess up, other people (generally your boss, since you’re an intern) are held responsible. That makes the severity of your blunders that much more intense.
But I get it. Sometimes you make mistakes. We all do every now and then. I made like 37 in the past four minutes.
If and when you make a mistake on the job, do not under any circumstances try to cover it up. Own up to it and fix it.
Be serious about your work. And be even more serious about your mistakes. You’ll get mercy that way.
6. Check your standing.
Most offices have a leaderboard for the interns and give them XP when they complete tasks. Usually those in last place get cut at the end of the week. And at the end of the term sometimes the intern in first place gets a monetary prize!
I’m kidding. Lol.
What I mean by check your standing is this: Every now and then, ask your boss how you’re doing. Is there anything that you could do to be more productive or efficient? Is there anything that you’re doing wrong? Are you helping meet the goals of the office?
Be open and receptive. And once your boss responds, use that feedback to grow and stand out even more than you did before!
7. Learn with friends.
Get to know your coworkers. They can offer some great bits of information that may help you skyrocket in the industry or the office.
Ask them about their careers and their background in the industry. Why did they choose to work here specifically? Do they have advice for you?
People love talking about themselves. Even introverts can be conceited at times. (I can very much attest to this.) In doing this you will not only gain some useful information, but you’ll get people to like you. And people who like you are likelier to do things for you, like favors!
Interns love favors.
8. Dress the best.
Every office has a dress code. Obey it.
But you can go beyond the dress code. Wear nice outfits that match and make you look as hot as the blazing sun. People will think more positively about you if you are dressed well. I know it sounds strange, but it’s absolutely true.
It’s the concept of social attractiveness. Look it up.
9. Seek advice.
Similar to number 7, but a little different.
Instead of learning about your coworkers, focus on gaining actual career advice. Like … explicitly ask for it. Ask about your coworkers’ career paths, if they know of job leads, or what they would suggest to their younger self if they could.
Most people will give advice if you ask, but few will go out of their way to offer.
So don’t be afraid. Just ask!
10. Remember your courtesies.
Sit down with your boss to talk about what you’re getting out of the internship, and thank them for giving you the opportunity to work for them.
Saying “thank you” is important. It shows appreciation and consideration. It shows that you are taking your position seriously and that you recognize your boss as a human being. Some people may be too shy or scared to do this, but revealing a bit of vulnerability can really put you ahead of the other interns in your office.
So, like, remember your courtesies.
Be yourself, honey.
Doing all of this can help you totally ace your internship. You’ll create bonds, learn about the industry, and leave a lasting impression on your boss.
Now remember this: Each work environment is unique, which means that this list could require some altering. If you need to alter your strategy, go for it! That’s the beauty of a strategy. It’s dynamic!
But really, don’t forget to be yourself. Being yourself (and being nice) is the most important part of acing your internship. You can do it. I believe in you!