My daughter is a rising college sophomore at the University of Georgia, and she started her first internship a couple of days ago. She’s been excited about it for months, but I think she was more excited about the idea of having an internship because frankly, she really had no idea what she was getting herself into.
Internships are a wonderful way to gain experience, have something to add to your resume, learn what you like and what interests you, and also get an idea of what you don’t want to do for a career. However, this first glimpse of the “real world” can be daunting and disappointing at times.
I wanted to write this blog for my daughter to read (because it’s better than “lecturing”), but I am also writing it to help everyone who’s embarking on an internship because these tips can really help you understand how to make a good impression and be successful in this new role
- HOW CAN A STUDNET BEST PREPARE FOR AN INTERNSHIP?
- Research. Read about the company, the leadership team, their clients, and anything else you can before your first day.
- Dress for Success. Find out from the hiring manager what the dress code is. If it’s business casual, that still means no flip flops, shorts, or anything revealing. Maybe not even jeans but certainly not those with holes in them. Always be neat, ironed and make sure your clothes are well fitted.
- Be prepared to arrive on time and stay late. This makes a great impression and they will know you are reliable and dedicated.
2. WHAT SHOULD AN INTERN DO TO MAKE A GOOD IMPRESSION?
- Social skills set you apart. College students (and even most grads) aren’t generally entering the professional world bringing a lot of experience to a company. But what will set you apart from others is your social skills. Going in with a positive attitude, an enthusiastic demeanor, a willingness to work hard and a strong desire to learn is what you can offer. These qualities will show that you would be an asset to any work environment.
- Have a “Can Do” attitude. Take initiative, be pro-active, and helpful. Have a good attitude whether you’re just getting coffee or writing a full report. Ask questions if you’re unsure about something but be a self-starter and don’t bug your boss.
- Proper email etiquette. Remember an email is an electronic letter. Use proper English, grammar, keep the email short, change the subject line and don’t copy everyone. Also add a signature block that is professional and provides your title and contact information.
- Try to get along with everyone. The other interns, the receptionist, and your boss regardless if you think he/she is “mean” or “unreasonable”. Smile and say hello to people, avoid any negative talk about people or situations. However, don’t get too chummy because this is work and not a frat party.
- Meet as many people as possible and network. Keep track of who you meet and what they do. You might need to ask some of these people for letters of recommendation one day. It’s a great idea to create a Linked-In profile and connect with people you meet through work so you can keep in contact with them in the future.
3. WHAT SHOULD AN INTERN AVOID DOING?
- Stay off your cell phone. Unless you’re using your cell for business, only bring it out on your breaks. When using the office phone, remember to answer it professionally. If you’re required to make calls, make a script if you are unsure of what to say and feel nervous about it.
- Show respect for everyone and everything. Don’t swear, don’t invade personal space, don’t take office supplies, don’t be negative about people or the company, don’t say or share anything inappropriate (racial, sexual), and don’t contradict your boss.
- Understand how to use social media. Don’t friend people from work on Facebook. Don’t text people for business unless they ask you to. Don’t post anything about work or anything on your personal social media that your company might not like and you could get fired for.
Watch My Charlotte Today Intern Etiquette Segment HERE.
More etiquette advice and information can be found on my website at FinesseWorldwide.com.