The Top Mistakes Interns Make
By now, most college students have started their jobs and internships for the summer. After the first-day jitters, paperwork and orientation, you’re probably starting to feel comfortable in the workplace. Don’t give way to bad habits with these typical intern mistakes and solutions:
When your standard summer uniform consists of a worn-in pair of Levi cutoffs and beat-up gladiator sandals, transitioning into an intern-appropriate wardrobe can be a little difficult. If you’re not familiar with the ways of the working world, you may show up to work overdressed or under-dressed. Play it safe with office appropriate dresses and skirts while getting a feel for your office’s choice of couture.
You landed the interview, wooed your supervisor and got the offer for the internship. Now what? Impressing the higher-ups before beginning work is only half the battle. Don’t be surprised when you’re asked for ideas or input at work or in meetings. If you’re too startled to come up with anything, remember this: you were chosen for the position for a reason. Get your shine on and come up with something!
If you’re working in a big city, be prepared to shell out some dough. Your metro fare and lunch will run up a pretty large tab, especially in Manhattan. $9 for a sandwich? Crazy! Avoid the spend-shock and prepare a budget ahead of time.
Not Utilizing Your Time
After your first few weeks on the job, your supervisor will probably feel more comfortable with handing you more assignments. And after a while, you’ll probably be up to your knees in Excel spreadsheets. Be efficient as possible—try not to take too long with assignments. Trust me, there’s more where they came from.
I’m sure that keeping up with the Weiner scandal or seeing what happened on last night’s episode of Single Ladies is really important, but try to contain yourself until 5:00 p.m. Opening up a new tab in your browser is really tempting, but remember that your supervisor has eyes in the back of his/her head!
Too Shy to Network
Think of your internship as a gateway to a possible job after graduation. The people who you work for could be your coworkers in a few years! Make sure that everyone in the office knows your name and the school you go to. You’re bound to have something in common with someone – use that fact and make a new mentor!
Not Following Up Afterwards
After everyone knows your name, maintaining your presence in the office is even more important after you leave. Don’t forget to send thank you notes and emails every three months at the close of your internship.
Taking, Eating Too Much
Even though most interns are unpaid, the perks are plentiful. There are always office parties for the pregnant manager or the assistant who’s turning 30, yummy bagels and pastries in the break room and a fancy coffee maker with a variety of flavors. And don’t forget the awesome inventory closet with all of the pens, folder and notebooks that you can imagine. Pace yourself before double fisting espressos and chomping down a tuna wrap. Mind your manners!
Maintaining a Façade
Sure, filing papers and making copies don’t exactly scream “fun” or “glamour.” Don’t let it show on your face. Maintain an earnest smile at all times and complain to your friends later.
Not Taking Notes
Don’t forget to take a notebook everywhere you go. Get into the habit of writing everything down – it looks attentive and you’ll avoid asking redundant questions.