The top 10 things you should know before setting foot into a new domain.
Make a good first impression and you’ll get hired for the internship. But leaving a memorable mark is just as important to secure a contact and possibly even a future job.
1. Show up 5 minutes early
Do whatever it takes to get to the work on time. Set your clock 10 minutes ahead if you’re slow to wake up, and grab a coffee to get yourself going. If you can get there early, even better. Nothing looks worse than being chronically late.
2. Look presentable, even if others don’t
At your interview you realize that people are casually dressed. You ask about the dress code and your first impression is confirmed -- it’s very casual. Just because they dress in cut-offs and sneakers does not mean you should too. Dress to impress; it makes you feel more professional and makes you look fabulous.
3. Offer to do mundane things
All interns have some kind of down time every now and then. Why not make the best of your time and offer to do little things around the office? Organize your desk, fill the printer with paper, or file away that stack of folders. Going above and beyond is sure to leave an imprint.
4. Be confident on the phone -- fake it if you have
It’s an open office with no walls, no cubicles, and no privacy. Own that phone call like you’ve been there for years. Pretend no one can hear you and make your voice firm and convincing. But never give out false information. If you don’t know an answer, don’t give one -- ask your supervisor or tell them you’ll call them back. You may be an intern, but the person on the other side of the line doesn’t have to know that.
5. Show interest in the job and ask questions
Don’t be intimidated. You’re at the internship to learn and understand the way the business works. Ask as many questions as you can and speak to everyone at the office. Every job is different and they’re all worth knowing about. If your supervisor is intimidating try speaking to him or her at the end of the day or right before lunch break when he or she is a little more relaxed.
6. Always stay busy or at least look busy
Supervisors aren’t babysitters. If you’ve finished your project or task-at-hand, ask for more work. If there’s nothing to do at the moment then occupy yourself by meandering over to the bookshelf (if there is one) and reading the material offered at the office. Surfing the web is sometimes okay on the job if you have access to a computer but make sure to stick to job-related or news websites such as the New York Times.
7. Do daily tasks without being told
If you’re assigned a task every day for a full week, it probably means you are going to be expected to do it for the rest of your time there. Take initiative and do it without being told. Checking an e-mail account or opening the mail when you first come in is a good way to say you’re ready and willing to work.
8. Do everything with a smile
From transcribing a hand-written manuscript to delivering a package across town to organizing a lengthy Excel document, do everything with a smile. Be enthusiastic about every job because it shows you’re willing to do what it takes to prove you’re interested.
9. Thank the boss
A hand-written thank you card is more personal than an e-mail. It can be short and sweet but it’s important to show your appreciation for the opportunity to work and observe at the office. If you’re so inclined and want to thank the rest of the staff, bringing in some baked goods says a sweet goodbye.
10. Ask your supervisor to be a reference
Before you leave the internship, ask your supervisor if he or she can be contacted for future references. If you have a good relationship with them, you can add them to your resume and obtain a contact in that field. Leaving a lasting impression can help you snag a job at the same place in the future or at least build your resume. Remember it’s not just what you know but who you know that will take you places.