Being a good intern is a lot more than completing your work on time — there are a lot of other elements that come into play if you’re hoping to have a successful and productive experience.
As someone who has not only had multiple internships but has been on the other side of things and seen how interns interact in my workplace, I think these are a few crucial things to remember.
Nothing is going to get you a bad reputation more quickly if you’re constantly dressing inappropriately. While every office is different, shorts, strapless dresses and sandals are traditionally not considered to be appropriate workplace attire. Getting this right is one of the easiest things to do, but is also one of the most easily forgotten. If in doubt, play it safe — it’s better to dress more formally than too casually.
This one seems like a no-brainer, but you’ll be amazed by how easily you can forget this one. Showing up late is an easy way to offend others in the office, especially if you’re expected to be in a meeting. Try your best to show up 10 or 15 minutes early every day. Not only will it give you a chance to get a head start on your work, but it will help you make a solid impression.
If you’re running late, contact your supervisor and let him or her know (make sure to find out ahead of time if email or phone call is best). While you shouldn’t be late on a daily basis, your supervisor will understand if you have a doctor’s appointment or something unexpected, like getting a flat tire, happens.
Watch your chatter
While us college students love talking about our drunken exploits, it’s not a good idea to bring those up in the office. Be aware of your surroundings! Even if you’re chatting with fellow interns, there could be someone in the cubicle next to you who is going to be less than amused when they’re trying to work. Also, make sure to be aware of your surroundings. Some workplaces are a lot more quiet than others, so you may need to adjust your volume accordingly.
As you’ll quickly learn, you may not agree with everything that your bosses do or say, but as an intern, you’ve got to make sure that you respond in a respectful manner. Body language is important, too! Remember that this applies to all forms of communication. Whether it’s an email, a phone call or a text message, responding appropriately is required at all times.
Anytime you’re getting trained on something, take notes. It not only shows that you’re taking the training seriously, but it also shows that you care about committing it to memory. It will also help you avoid asking questions that you should already know the answers to down the road.
Clean up your mess
This could range from anything from properly disposing of your lunch to clearing off your workspace when you’re done for the day. You should never expect anyone to clean up after you.