4 Intern Mistakes To Avoid

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Are you planning on doing an internship over the summer? 

Summer internships are a great way to start getting your feet wet in the real world of working for a living and/or apply any credit hours you may be lacking in. 

Before you start applying, check with your campus career counseling center to see if they have an established program regarding internships and academic credit options. Whether you’re currently looking or haven’t applied to any of the summer programs yet, you’ve still got a few weeks to get your ducks in a row. Once you start applying and land the program of your choice, follow the essential tips below to help you throughout the duration of your internship. 

5 Internship Mistakes To Avoid… 

#1: Not doing the work you’ve been asked to do – Though scanning a huge stack of papers or filing them away may seem menial, it’s a task you’ve been asked to accomplish. The cold hard truth is – you’re an intern, not an actual employee. This means you’ve probably got very little to no experience under your belt. Because of this, the company who has hired you is going to ask you to do a lot of crappy work until they’re confident in you and feel you can be taken seriously. Tip: This means you’re going to have to prove your worth and scan or file that huge stack of papers away like it’s the next best thing since sliced bread. Why? Because you need the experience, will be able to use the company as a reference (barring you don’t screw it up), and have to start somewhere. It might not be ideal, but it beats flipping burgers at your cousin’s burger joint or worse – being stuck playing baby sitter for the summer. So, why not?

#2: Showing up late – There’s nothing worse than a new employee or intern who fails to show up on time. First and foremost, it’s unprofessional and will upset your employer or managing supervisor. Secondly, the hours of operation are provided to you for a reason. If you were given a set time frame to work, then it’s probably a good idea to show up on time or even slightly before your expected arrival time. Tip: If you’ve got a knack for managing your time poorly – try presetting your alarm clock or phone clock 10-15 minutes ahead of what the actual time is. That way, you arrive early everywhere you go. 

#3: Taking the internship too casually – Though it may be a short duration, take it seriously. The job market is a competitive one. Which means, there are 20-30 other students or professional workers who can replace you and right now you need all of the experience and references you can get for when you’re actually looking for a job. That means, even if you’re working for good old ‘mom and dad,’ be sure to express enthusiasm towards the work you’re given. Ask questions if you’re uncertain about anything, take accountability for anything you may have goofed up on and be sure to fulfill all of the assignments you’ve been tasked with. Failure to do so could result in immediate termination – something you will want to avoid if you’re seeking academic credit for the program. Remembering that the program you’re in will help with your future job opportunities is a good way to keep your thoughts from spiraling out of control if you don’t enjoy the tasks you’ve been assigned to do. 

#4: Not establishing relationships or speaking negatively about the ones you’ve made –  It’s tricky to find solid footing in a new environment with new people. You don’t really know the rules (even if you read through them), all of the people you’re working beside are new to you (and may have agendas of their own) and you’ve got that “new person” target written all over you. It’s almost equivalent to having a huge zit on your nose that everyone looks at when they talk to you instead of your eyes. Either way – you pretty much want to walk around with a bag over your face just to avoid the stares you’ll receive. Bad news first – you can’t. Which means, you’ve got to suck it up and go with the flow for a few days or at least until everyone else has gotten used to “the new face” around the office. The good news is, after a day or so the stares will stop and you’ll start to be welcomed into their social circle. Just be sure to maintain those professional relationships. You can do this by asking if you can help any of your fellow co-workers with anything they may need help with or by praising them on a project they accomplished recently that you feel was a success. Establishing a strong connection with the people you work with will help you in the long run and possibly land you a job at the company once you’ve graduated. On the flip side, be sure to stay neutral if other co-workers say anything negatively about one another. Being diplomatic is imperative to maintaining your working relationships. You want to leave on a positive note, not a negative one. 

If your school doesn’t offer internship programs, try looking into internship.com. The site lists thousands of programs to choose from and has been accredited by Forbes Magazine as one of the Top 10 Career websites for students. 

As a Dorm Room Movers author, feel free to leave any additional comments on what intern mistakes a student should avoid making. 

Good luck interning,

Miki


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