You’re the new kid on the block… the intern. Your new boss and coworkers will expect you to be learning many skills for the first time. And they’ll be watching… all the time. It’s up to you to make a positive first, and lasting, impression.
As you begin to establish your reputation as an intern, here are 10 things to keep in mind:
1. Don’t Be a “Yes Man” or “Yes Woman”
While it might seem like a good idea to take on as many projects as possible when starting your internship, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with responsibilities. Many interns think they can improve their reputation by trying to do everything. However, if you can’t do everything well, it’s very likely your boss and coworkers will be unimpressed.
It’s OK to tell your boss you can’t take on an extra project because you know your work will suffer. Explain to your boss that you have too much on your plate and simply cannot overwhelm yourself with too many assignments.
2. Always Check in with Your Boss
Not only does your boss manage you, but also they have additional responsibilities to take care of and employees to manage. While your boss might seem super busy, they will always have time for their intern. Instead of thinking you can complete big projects without checking in, make it a goal to update your boss about your progress and open the floor to feedback.
Although your boss will encourage you to work independently, they want you to approach them with any questions or concerns you might have. For example, if you know you’re going to miss a deadline or you feel clueless on a project, it’s important to speak up sooner rather than later. This will save both you and your boss from a number of unnecessary headaches.
3. Pay Attention to Your Body Language
Sometimes, your body language can speak louder than words. During your internship, you want to come off as friendly, enthusiastic, and approachable. You can display these qualities by smiling when you pass a coworker in the hallway and making sure you have good posture.
4. Keep Your Space Organized
No intern is perfect, but it’s important to keep your desk as neat as possible. While there are days when you’ll be swimming in files and stacks of documents, it’s important to keep your desk clean, especially when your boss stops by to chat.
5. Jump on Learning Opportunities
During your internship, you’re going to have dozens of learning opportunities come your way. Your boss might invite you to attend a lunch and learn, or encourage you to enroll in a class. When these opportunities happen, make sure you snag them up. Not only will you have the chance to advance your career, but also you will show your manage that you’re eager to learn.
6. Follow Company Policies
It’s very likely when you started your internship that your manager gave you an intern handbook. While it might seem silly to have to read the entire document, this booklet is essential to your success as an intern. Simple things such as dress code and attendance policies are things you must follow as an intern. By knowing the policies for your employer, you’ll avoid making any mistakes that will get you noticed in the wrong ways.
7. Always Arrive Early
Speaking of attendance, always arrive to your internship early. Even if it’s just 10 or 15 minutes before your work day starts, this is a great way to make a positive impression in the workplace. Good attendance will show your boss that you’re serious about your position and always ready to work.
8. Ask Questions and Take Good Notes
Excellent interns ask questions and take excellent notes. It’s OK to ask questions as long as you tried figuring out the answer for yourself first. Your boss would much rather have you ask them a question than try to complete a task you feel clueless about. By asking questions and taking notes, you’ll feel much more prepared and show your boss that you’re actively engaged at work.
9. Don’t Contribute to Office Gossip
The last thing you should do during your internship is contribute to office gossip. It’s very likely you’ll overhear employees talking about other coworkers in the break room or a rumor of someone getting fired. Regardless of what you hear in the office, refrain from contributing to the negative conversation.
10. Beware of Your Personality and Habits
If you consider yourself to be very funny or have an extremely outgoing personality, it’s a good idea to pay attention to how your personality fits into the rest of the company’s culture. The last thing you want is to offend a coworker with one of your jokes or speak at the wrong time.
Getting off to a great start as the intern isn’t that difficult to do. By keeping in touch with your manager, staying engaged with your work, and always asking questions, you’ll create a great first impression! in the workplace!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friend, Heather Huhman!
About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert and founder & president of Come Recommended, a career and workplace education and consulting firm specializing in young professionals. Follow her on Twitter at @heatherhuhman.