4 Things You Should Do When Interning

Summer time is one of the most popular seasons to intern, especially if you are a college student.  Interning allows you to figure out what you like and do not like, network, and grow professionally and personally.  With summer coming to a close #QueSadMusic, I want to use this opportunity to share advice on surviving an internship, based off of my experiences and some outside sources.

Wear APPROPRIATE Clothing Lengths

As basic as this professional rule sounds, it still surprises me when I see some of my fellow intern colleagues show up to work in short shorts, denim mini skirts, or even workout attire finished with flip-flops.  No matter how fashionable the trend is in, ie

Off the shoulder tops are great for music festivals, not so great for office.  Don’t think the long sleeves are fooling anyone…

off the shoulder tops, or if the company has a more creative office/casual environment, it would be wise to air more on the conservative side.  How you dress in the office is how you are communicating to everyone else without even speaking a word.  Something I have noticed, while doing my current internship: the more senior you are in the office, the more polished and professional looking the employee is and she has her own stylistic uniform, such as a crisp modern-looking button down with jeans free of any rips and a black long sleeve top with a printed midi skirt.

A rule I follow in regards to skirts or dresses is that the minimum length should hit three inches above the knee.  For tops, the neckline should be no lower than placing four fingers horizontally along the collarbone (tip from The Career Code).

Bring a Notebook and Nice Pen

Sure handwriting notes might be a thing of the old (though I disagree), but hear me out.  When you are starting at a new place, you are bound to meet new people and taught new skills that will be used throughout your internship.  Use the notebook to write down instructions when your supervisor is showing you a how-to and passwords for example.  Writing it down allows you to go back and look at the instructions if you forget how-to do something rather than wasting both you and your supervisor’s time by asking for instructions again.  Once you write it down, repeat back what the supervisor wants you to do in your own words to see if you understand what he/she wants.  This is a less obvious way to make sure you understand the instructions and if you do misunderstand a step, the supervisor can correct you before it is too late!

Another useful tip I have picked up by using my notebook is writing down names of people I meet, their position in the office, and what we talked about.  Go back from time to time to look at the list of names so the next time you see the person, you will remember their name.

In regards to your pen, do not use one of those free pens you got at a random vendor that has the vendor’s name on it.  At least bring two pens (blue or black, no pink please) that are free of any company logos.  Your notebook should also be professional looking as well.  I suggest Moleskines.  They are clean, high-quality paper (I’m picky about paper quality), and professional looking.

Side note about names: If you do not know already, Dale Carnegie points out that “a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” This is especially helpful to keep in mind when you are meeting someone new.  Say their name as often as you can.  Examples:  Nice to meet you Jack…What is your position here Jack…How long have you worked here Jack…you get the point.  Read this article if you want some more tips on how to remember someone’s name.

Ask About Your Progress

I read about this tip when I was preparing to start my current internship since it was the first company I am interning at that has a more corporate structure.  By asking about your progress, it shows that you care and are willing to make the initiative to improve your work to further your success.  Your supervisors are there to help you succeed so why not figure out how you can improve?  Just remember when the supervisor is critiquing you, they are constructive criticism so take time to digest the information.  Bring in your trusty notebook and pen when this conversation happens so you can look back on it in the future.  I suggest asking for feedback about a month in, halfway through, and when you are almost done.

Identify Goals You Want to Accomplish

To make the most out of your internship, set realistic goals about two weeks in.  The two weeks give you time to observe what the office is like, power structure, etc.  The goals motivate you to keep doing good work and challenge you to maybe go out of your comfort zone.  Make sure to handwrite your goals (cough, notebook) and look back at it often to see how you are progressing towards those goals.  Once you meet a goal, give yourself a good pat on the back and create a new one; and at the end of the day, you’ll be like this:


Let me know in the comments below what you do to succeed at your internship.  Best of luck!

6 thoughts on “4 Things You Should Do When Interning

  1. Great blog.

    Your suggestions reflect the Double Interact, which is a combination of two interacts.
    (From Weick and his Organizing Theory.)

    Message/order – Response to message: Interact 1
    Response to message – Response to response: Interact 2
    Message/order – Response to message – Response to response: Double-Interact

    It’s rare that the double-interact is exhibited in organizations.
    Even the second step (response to the message) is often missing in organizations.

    For example, supervisors send email orders to subordinates.
    They assume that their messages or orders are clear.
    As a consequence they don’t ask for feedback.
    So even step two is often missing.

    The double-interact should be taught to all employees and should be required communication in organizations.
    The Double Interact is more likely in face-to-face interactions, but only if bosses encourage employees to ask questions if they are unclear about what orders mean.
    Sometimes bosses/supervisors don’t want questions because they see questions as challenges to their authority.

    An organization is effective to the extent that it handles information efficiently. The first requisite of handling information efficiently is clarity. The Double Interact ensures clarity of information/communication. 🙂


    Liked by 2 people

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