This time of year always takes me back to my own intern days (of which were not too terribly long ago) and as this is the first year I’ll have an intern to co-manage myself, it has me thinking much more seriously about do’s, don’ts, plans and projects for her arrival.
All of the planning has lead me to creating many lists, including experiences I loved and other tid-bits I wish someone would have shared with me on day one.
Here are a few of my biggest takeaways:
Do show up on time. In an agency setting some people arrive at 8:00, some people at 10:00 and that’s OK. Don’t get in at 10:00, unless you have explicit direction to do so.
Don’t expect to be busy everyday. There will be downtime. Don’t get frustrated or put it to waste. Find ways to grow independently. Ask colleagues what newsletters they subscribe to or sites they frequent. Save those for your downtime. Spend some time perusing SlideShare, we’re all still learning to master the escape of death by powerpoint.
Do make friends, but branch out from the intern group. It’s important to form relationships with both your peers and your superiors. Make sure to find a balance that works for you.
Don’t turn down happy hour, lunch or coffee. Not only because there is food involved, but also because these settings frequently hold potential for conversations that the office doesn’t always make time for. Learn more about others’ backgrounds and find out what they are passionate about.
Do ask for introductions (when appropriate). You are an intern and one of the biggest perks is that you likely aren’t signed on to an exclusive relationship with your job. Take advantage of that! Ask to meet people from other companies, agencies, etc. When I thought about moving from corporate to agency post-college, a boss of mine did me a fantastic favor to help set up informational interviews with agencies across town. Without that experience, I would have never known where I wanted to end up – or have nearly as many fantastic connections, with whom I still keep in touch today.
Do introduce yourself to someone who’s job you’ll never have. No, I’ll never be a web developer or a user experience architect, but spending time with those people early on in my current role helped to round out my skills and better understand and speak to their disciplines.
Do dress well. Yes, it’s summer and it’s hot. No a mini skirt isn’t appropriate. Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.
Don’t be negative. Yes, there will be some long days. Yes, people will drive you crazy. Yes, it may take longer to land the full-time job than expected. Be patient and be positive, each and every person you will work with has been in your shoes. And they survived.
What have I missed? Anything else former interns (or current ones) would add to this list?