So you got the internship of your dreams. Yay! Wanna make sure you don’t screw it up? Lemme help you.
I should start by saying that I can’t speak for all workplaces and all industries. But! Through my own experience interning at a movie studio in college and my experience working with our interns here at HelloGiggles, I’ve got a grasp on how to make the most of the experience (for both you and your boss).
SAY ‘THANK YOU’
A one line, “Thank you so much for this opportunity, I’m eager to learn and be of help”-type message will mean a lot to an employer and remind them that you were the right choice for the job. I suggest doing this at the beginning, and writing a second email or card toward the end of your experience.
BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR AVAILABILITY
In life, you really shouldn’t be making promises you can’t keep, and in interning, you really really shouldn’t. Don’t sign up for five days a week when you know that three is more practical. If you say three and can somehow show up for five, people will think you’re a rockstar. If you say five and show up for three, you don’t even want to know what they’ll think of you (okay, fine, they’ll think you’re a flake, an airhead and a baby).
If you have regular weekly commitments (and I’m not talking about a damn improv class or Sunday brunch with your girls– shelve that ish for a minute), let your boss know upfront, ideally during the interview process. Your boss will appreciate that you’re being realistic and will understand if it’s something unarguably important, like doctor’s appointments, religious commitments, a part-time job or a college course.
PROVE THAT YOU WERE THE RIGHT CHOICE
Of course it’s important to be yourself and let your personality shine through whenever you can, but it’s also important that the higher ups know you’re taking this opportunity seriously and are grateful for it every day. That is true of any job, but it’s extra important when YOU are the intern they’ve selected out of many applicants.
There’s no shame in being the office nerd. I always was. I showed up early in a clean and conservative outfit, I’d ask people if they needed beverages before I got one for myself and kept my desk so clean you’d never know anyone used that space at all.
Oh and this is super important: If your job involves any kind of event with alcohol (a holiday party, a birthday party, a press event or release party, etc.), treat it like you’re in the office and be ready to help. You don’t want to be remembered as the intern that got all messed up and had to be driven home by someone from accounting at the end of the night, right? No drinking– that’s what you do when you get home.
BE READY TO DO ANYTHING
In many ways, an intern is just an extra set of hands. One day you may be driving to fill a prescription for someone, the next day you may be wading through a decade’s worth of paperwork that needs to be filed, etc. You’re probably going to encounter a lot of tasks you weren’t expecting, but never let it show on your face. Just smile, say you’ll do it and then go freak out in your car or your cubicle while you figure out how the hell you’re going to get it done (and you will).
It’s okay to admit that you’re not entirely experienced in certain areas– most bosses will understand that the whole purpose of an internship is to gain knowledge– but me personally? I’d die before I’d telling a boss that I wasn’t even willing to try.
ASK QUESTIONS, BUT NOT TOO MANY QUESTIONS
Again, interning is about learning and getting some experience under your belt before you’re ready to enter the work-force, so bosses expect that you will have some questions about the way things work and more importantly, the way they work. Ask them how they take their coffee, if there are any must-have contacts you should have at hand and other things that you’d want an intern of your own to know about you.