Intern Conduct: How to Make the Right Moves
An internship is the bridge that links student life to professional life. For many college students, internships are a first exposure to the working world outside of part-time jobs in retail or recreation, so you may have some uncertainty about what to expect. Not to worry! You’re walking a well-trodden path, as generations of college students have marched the route before you. Here’s what you need to know:
Treat the experience like a job. Employers know the difference between employees and interns, and of course you’ll be aware of the differences as well – most notably that you may be working for no pay (although there are plenty of paid opportunities out there so don’t write off an internship if you need pay!). If you are taking the path of an unpaid internship, do yourself a huge favor and forget that detail before you show up for your first day. Your mindset must be fixed on professionalism at all times, so don’t set yourself up to slack off just because you aren’t working for pay. You’re here to do a job, and that means:
- Arriving on time, every day.
- Dressing to impress. Regardless of the job site, be polished and presentable. Take note of how the pros around you dress, and work to blend in with them.
- Maintaining a cheerful demeanor – even when you don’t feel like it.
Leave your phone in your car. We’re serious about this one, because employers and site supervisors consistently report this as an annoyance specific to college students – get off your phone. Don’t text. Don’t check social media. You’re at work, and whether you think somebody’s watching or not, you’ll quickly hurt your reputation if you’re staring at your phone screen when you’ve got tasks to complete. It’s just too tempting when it is by your side.
Be industrious. Finished with your work? Ask what you can do next. We know that traditional intern tasks aren’t always glamorous, but you’ll make a lasting impression if you’re the intern who finishes the task at hand and then asks for more work – especially if those tasks are done perfectly, every time. When in doubt, talk to your boss. We guarantee your energy and enthusiasm will make her day.
Internships are exciting, and present a unique opportunity to distinguish yourself amongst a sea of similarly-educated college students. Make sure to stick to rule number 1 – Treat it Like a Job – and you’ll walk away with a new set of skills, a great reference, a notch in your resume and maybe even an offer for a full-time gig.