Intern Do's and Dont's

Intern Do's and Dont's

I've come up with a few intern do's and don'ts to help guide future Washington Center interns as they prepare for their semesters in D.C. I've discussed these points with supervisors, co-workers, and fellow TWC interns to help outline (in a simple way) good and bad practices both as an intern and generally as a young professional in D.C. In the holiday spirit, I've thought of it somewhat as Santa's naughty and nice lists for interns. Remember, your supervisors are making a list and checking it twice so definitely make sure to ace these internship do's and stay away from the less-than-desirable internship don'ts.

 

DO ask for help...

It is extremely important to ask questions if you don't understand an assignment or project you've been given. Supervisors understand -- you don't come in as an intern already knowing how to do everything -- and they are more than willing to help you and answer any questions you may have. Doing your work when you don't clearly understand what is expected of you only leads to mistakes and frustration. So just ask!

 

DON'T leave the printer jammed...

If you jam up the printer at work, use all the ink, and leave it without any paper, people in the office are not going to like you very much. Either fix it yourself or find someone who can help. You don't want to make a bad impression with your lack-luster printer etiquette.

 

DO explore...

It's important to explore D.C., so go to the monuments and the museums! Having an understanding of the city's basic layout is important and it is a great topic of conversation at work. When co-workers ask you what you did over the weekend, you will have exciting stories of exploring the city's wonders.

 

DON'T eat out every day...

It can get extremely expensive to buy lunch every day. Five dollars for a sandwich doesn't sound bad, but it adds up quickly. Save your money for interesting events and workshops rather than spending it all on subs and bags of chips.

 

DO build your network...

Your supervisors and co-workers want to help you and give you career advice. So add them on LinkedIn, have them look over your resume, and tell them about your interests. You never know where a little afternoon advice could lead you. People at your internship are going to be well connected and you want to take advantage of that.

 

DON'T go on Facebook...

Stay off of social media sites at work unless it is part of your job requirement. If you're bored enough to be scrolling through Facebook or Twitter, you clearly don't have enough to do and people will notice that. Soak up as much as you can from your internship by looking for more assignments and projects if you are free. Down time is perfect for chatting with co-workers and letting them know that you are there to help. The golden rule for interns -- ask: "Is there anything else I can help you with?" It puts forth a good image in the office when you seem eager to work and take on new challenges.

 

DO set goals...

Setting goals is essential in every aspect of your life. The Washington Center interns set specific goals for themselves at the beginning of the semester and constantly make strides towards achieving them. Not only does setting goals allow you to measure your progress, but they serve as an outline for what you want to accomplish each and every day. I printed out a few of my internship goals and made my supervisor aware of them because even more important than setting goals is meeting them. When you make your internship aware of your goals they can help set you up with relevant projects and assignments to help you reach the benchmarks you've set for yourself.

 

DON'T wear headphones at work...

Even if you are quietly working on an independent project, don't put headphones in at work. It is pretty unprofessional and as an intern, you don't want to seem closed off to the environment and conversations around you. Plus, do you ever see the CEO wearing headphones? I didn't think so.

 

DO carry your business card...

You never know who you're going to meet in D.C. or where and when you'll meet them so it's a good practice to always carry a business card with you. The Washington Center gets business cards made for all of the interns and it's a good idea to keep a pen and a card on you at all times for networking purposes.

 

DON'T forget to spell-check and save...

These may seem obvious, but they are classic intern mistakes. Most of us are used to updating statuses and such where grammar isn't critical, but it is essential that all of your work is extremely professional. Saving is obviously important too, but you won't believe how many times interns have lost documents in the cloud this semester.

 

DO bring new ideas to the table...

Interns are brought into companies of course to help accomplish goals, but also to bring in fresh ideas and fresh perspectives. Never hold back on brainstorming with the team or offering something new to the table. Your coworkers will notice your engagement and care for the company's overall success.

 

DON'T dress like an intern...

I wrote earlier in the semester about how important a professional wardrobe is. It really does matter and the way you dress plays into the way you are perceived in the workplace. Make sure your shirts are ironed and you are always appropriately dressed for the professional atmosphere.

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