Easy Ways To Be The Best Intern Ever

In my accumulated two years as an unpaid intern at a variety of different magazines and websites, I have learned a LOT about the art of interning. I’ve worked with super nice people, but have also had horribly scary bosses who think they’re better than you — and I have spent countless hours trying to impress and suck up to those same people. And, well, I kind of rocked those internships. I worked hard, stayed organized, and tried my hardest to stand out in the crowd. At each different job, I had at least one or two people who told me constantly that there was no way they could get anything done without me.
Everyone knows the whole purpose of working long hours FOR FREE is to make some amazing contacts, get some great references, and most important of all: potentially get hired full-time. Yes, internships can be a total pain in the ass for a practically poor college graduate or student, but if you play your cards right, they can also be MAJORLY beneficial. I got my current full-time job (finally, YAY!) thanks to a former editor I interned for who gave me an amazing recommendation to a friend at the company I now work for. So here are my tips on how to easily be the life-saving intern who makes an impression.
Dress the part. For some internships, there’s a pretty standard dress code that’s easy to follow. For others, not so much. I know journalism jobs can be super casual – employees wear anything from suits and dresses to jeans and Uggs. Go by your office standards, but always make sure you look nice no matter what. You might not have to wear heels, but get a nice pair of flats or cute sandals, and try not to wear flip flops. How you dress is an indication of how seriously you’re taking your job. Walking in wearing the top you wore to the bar the other night or your fave Juicy hoodie is inappropriate and will only make you look inexperienced and young.

Do the things no one else wants to do. At one of my old internships, one of the perks was covering events in NYC and interviewing celebs. Obvi, everyone wanted to do that. Making a coffee run in the rain or transcribing an hour-long interview? Um, not as much enthusiasm. When given the chance, I always offered myself up to do the more annoying tasks. It shows the employer that you’re really willing to do whatever it takes and that you’re committed to working hard. Also, it makes them more likely to pick you to do the awesome stuff because they’re so grateful you do everything else.
Stay a little longer than you need to. Figure out what time your boss gets in, and try to get there a little earlier. Your boss will not only be impressed, but they’ll love that you’re there to help them right away. And at the end of the day, don’t be the girl who counts down to 6 p.m. and bolts out the door the second she can. I know so many interns who did that, but your boss will totally notice if you stay a little bit longer to finish up work or to ask if she/he needs help with anything else before you go. Even if they don’t say it.
Learn to multi-task and work fast. No matter how nervous you are about getting an assignment right, try to also get through it fast. While your boss will appreciate a job well done, they’ll appreciate it more if it’s done quickly. I’ve seen interns who thought it was okay to spend three hours on one simple project — and it’s not. If you’re slow, your boss will most likely not have a problem firing you. Keep in mind that interns are really easy to replace.
Be nice to everyone. As an intern, you’re working with some people who are going to treat you like you’re pretty much worth nothing. It sucks, but it happens. No matter what, just be nice to everyone you meet at work. You NEVER know who someone could be related to, or good friends with, whether it’s at that office or another one. When you’re nice to people, they’re more willing to cut you some slack and they’re more willing to give you an amazing recommendation.
Don’t let your boss see you on Facebook. I know that when you sit in front of a computer all day, the screen is practically screaming at you to cram in some serious stalk time on FB. But really — try not to do it too much. It’s something that everyone hears all of the time, but people still do it a lot. It just makes you look like you’re slacking off, even if you’re just taking a quick break. If you’re bored, ask if anyone needs help with anything — they’ll appreciate that you’re looking for something to do, and not just sitting there, waiting to be told what to do.

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