An internship is a time for you to learn and develop your skills in your respective field. It can be a great experience if you use your whole time there properly. Many times internships are used as opportunities to gain an understanding of what field of work you would like to pursue.
Many kids end up doing internships that are not interesting and therefore they just waste their time waiting for 5pm to hit so they can leave and enjoy happy hour. You must understand that time is the most valuable asset and you shouldn’t spend your summer wasting it, as competition is fierce and jobs are scarce in this current economy.
It is vital that you take advantage of this opportunity, as you will never get the time back. Even if you are not too fond of the work you are doing, there are many advantages to be availed upon while working there. Avoid these mistakes and make the most of your internship. Here are the 10 common mistakes people make at their internships:
Not doing menial tasks with as much gusto as you would interesting assignments.
As an intern you should have the mindset that you will be doing menial tasks day in and day out. That’s the reason why you got hired in the first place. If your boss wanted someone to work on projects with him would he/she really hire someone fresh out of college? Well maybe if he’s/she’s extremely cheap, but for now you need to know that pushing papers is currently part of your job description.
It is great that you are ambitious and want to prove your worth, but it is very important that you do not overlook dull tasks. They may seem boring to you, but they are a crucial part of the everyday operations. If you want to show your boss that you are worthy. If you excel with these humble tasks, then your boss is more inclined to give you more interesting assignments.
Make the most out of this opportunity and show your boss that you can follow simple instructions, you care about quality and that you can pay attention to detail. Once your boss feels that you understand these three points, then he will be more comfortable letting you handle bigger tasks.
Being underdressed any day of the week.
In the business world people will judge you before you open your mouth, don’t give them a reason to perceive you negatively because you didn’t dress properly. Your dress code should never be an issue. You are not in college anymore, everyday you must dress for success. Although you are an intern, you want to be taken seriously, so a simple polo shirt and khakis with the Sperry boat shoes you wore throughout college aren’t going to cut it. Get your act together and understand that your outfit represents how seriously you take your job.
If you’re constantly dressing like you’re going to class, you’re signaling to those around you that you are not taking your job seriously. Don’t have people question how serious you’re taking your job because when it’s time to make cuts, you will be one of the first people on the list. If you are ever questioning whether or not something is appropriate for work, just pay attention to how higher ups dress, this is a good way to gauge whether what you’re wearing is appropriate or not.
Showing a lack of respect for company culture.
Each office in any industry has a certain way of getting things done. The office culture is the invisible hand that goes around governing young interns and letting them know how things are done in that particular office. It is vital that you pay attention to how things run as you do not want to bring about unnecessary attention to yourself.
Pay attention to the way people interact around you. If everyone is at their desk doing their work don’t be the one to be walking around trying to converse with people. No one cares about your weekend and how hard you partied, especially your boss. You’re there for one reason and one reason only, so sit at your desk and get your work done.
A common mistake that interns make is that they overlook the small details that really make the office run. Set yourself apart from the rest of the interns, be aware of your surroundings and don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself. You want to actually portray that you belong in a professional setting, so do your best to actually fit in.
Getting too comfortable.
Your office is not your home, so don’t make a habit of making yourself comfortable while there. Even in the most casual of offices, you don’t want to seem too comfortable. You are a professional and must conduct yourself in such a manner. Do not use text slang in emails or slang phrases when talking to higher ups.
Many of these people are not your peers, so you must conduct yourself in a manner which lets those around you know that you can act maturely and formally. Another big no-no is putting your feet up on your desk. Until that desk has a tag that says ‘CEO’ followed by your name, you should never put your feet on the desk.
This is the ultimate sign of disrespect, so don’t get caught with your feet on the desk. Know your role and that until you own the company there is not reason for you to act informally because you do not want to be seen as immature.
Only becoming acquainted with those in your peer group.
Work is not social hour, one of the biggest mistakes interns make is that they segregate themselves from the other employees and hang out with their peer group. Now it may be more comfortable easing into a new job by talking with those who are your age, but it shouldn’t be the only group you converse with.
You are in a new company and it may be daunting to talk to the older employees, but this is very important. You want to get to know the experienced veterans as they are full of knowledge and experience. They have already been through many of the obstacles you will face at your job and their knowledge is useful.
When you need help, you will be able to confide in them, but no one wants to help anyone that they don’t really know. Relate to your older employees and you will notice that your work experience will be a pleasure.
Feedback is crucial so don’t be afraid to ask for it.
Your boss will undoubtedly be busy and in a constant rush to get things done, as pressure to meet certain deadlines and objectives mounts on him. Many times you will never get to have a 1-on-1 sit down with your boss and this is something you have to understand. It is your prerogative to get feedback from your superiors.
The biggest mistake interns make at their jobs is not getting enough feedback. This is a big problem and it eventually leads to a lack of understanding of your performance and what you can improve upon. How do you know what you can do better if you never really received any criticism for your work? If your manager doesn’t offer you feedback, then it’s your job to go and ask them how you are doing and how you can do better.
Forgetting to thank people who help you throughout your internship.
This is just common courtesy. You must know that no one owes you anything and that you must appreciate the little things that people do for you. Without a doubt, situations will arise where you will need the help of a fellow co-worker and some of them will be willing to take the time out of their busy schedules to help you.
It is imperative that you offer a sincere ‘thank you’ as they really didn’t have to help you. Also you must keep in mind that other situations will arise that will require you to ask for more assistance in the near future. People will feel more inclined to help you if they feel that their services are appreciated.
What does it cost you to say ‘thank you’ anyway? Put yourself in their shoes, would you really want to take time out of your busy day to help someone who doesn’t appreciate what you do for them?
Not making the most of possible learning situations.
The most valuable aspect about internships aside from resume building and meeting new people is the fact that you have access to a wealth of knowledge if you work the system well. Every situation offers you a new opportunity to learn something new, be it a simple meeting or a menial task your boss asks you to complete for them.
The biggest mistake one can make is not seizing the opportunity. You are young and your mind should be like a sponge. Don’t just sit there and have tunnel vision, have an open mind because it is the only way you are going to be able to grow in your respective field as well as your company. Seek to gain knowledge in other things beyond the scope of your immediate work. Make sure you pay attention to things that aren’t directly relevant to your work.
Spending more time talking than listening.
You just graduated college and now you just think you have the answers to all the world’s problems. Well surprise…you don’t. As much as you think you’re ready to face the world with that perfect 4.0 GPA, know that the real world is a whole different beast. Frankly no one cares about your GPA or how much you know because at the end of the day your seniors have more experience than you do and experience is something that you can’t learn in school.
So sit down, shut up, grab a pen and take notes. Before you offer new ideas on doing things, it is imperative that you first understand how things currently run. Don’t get too excited, we all know you are intelligent, but this is not the time to show off your knowledge, soak in as much information as you can
Once back at school or in another job, most people forget to stay in touch with the manager and co-workers.
This is one of the main and most crucial mistakes made by interns, not during the course of their time with an organization, but rather upon completion of the beneficial on-the-job training. Not following up with your employer is a sin most interns will and continuously make.
As you spend most of your summer in an office, it is important to establish these relationships with your fellow employees, establishing a network with hopes to one day receive a full time offer of employment. Strive to maintain these connections fostered, whether you spent a summer in dismay or enjoying the experienced earned.
Staying in touch with your co-workers, and especially your manager, with an occasional follow-up email is rather simple, but considered a tedious task to most. Preserving these relationships and solidifying one’s network is crucial for a brighter tomorrow in the work force.