What NOT to Do at Your Internship

Courtesy of New York Women in Communications

Steer clear of these internship “don’ts” this summer!

 1. Don’t dress like you’re at the beach or heading out to a club.

Let’s make one thing clear: inappropriate dress is completely unacceptable. Excessive sequins, short shorts/skirts, flip flops, low-cut shirts, sprayed on pants and backless tops are NOT okay at work no matter how relaxed the dress code may be. The impression you leave on your colleagues and supervisors is just as important as the work you submit to them, so make sure your appearance doesn’t negatively affect their opinion of you.

2. Don’t be glued to your cell phone.

Your hours at an internship are not meant for catching up with friends and arranging your Saturday night activities. You are there to help out and learn, so turn your mobile devices off and focus on the tasks at hand. Not given any assignments? Use that time to walk around the office and network, or ask for more work!

3. Don’t sabotage your fellow intern.

Everyone wants to get ahead in the workplace, but it’s important to be a fair, honest coworker. Stealing assignments from other interns, “forgetting” to forward a message about a meeting, and ratting out a mistake is unethical behavior and will not get you as far as it will hurt you. Try to be a team player with the other interns and you may gain more in the long run. You might just make a new friend. And even if you don’t see him/her as a potential new BFF, still be kind and cooperate because you could working with (or even for) them in a few years!

4. Don’t complain.

You didn’t sleep last night. You’re cold. You’re hot. You’re hungry. You can’t believe you have to stay overtime. You’re bored. You have too much work…blah blah blah. Nobody likes a whiner so try to keep the moaning and groaning to yourself. Instead, voice how excited you are about a challenging assignment, new responsibility or how much you’re enjoying your internship. As the saying goes, “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

5. Don’t be a recluse.

Sitting behind a desk, toiling away on your assignments is symbolic of an A+ intern. Remember, though, that being in a workplace is not just about completing your individual work. It’s also about forming connections and relationships with your office mates. If everyone seems to be gathering for a coworker’s birthday or to celebrate the birth of someone’s baby, ask your boss if it’s ok to join in and share your well wishes.

And 5 Little Don’ts…

1. Don’t slouch in your chair/put your feet up on the desk (even if no one is watching)

2. Don’t sign into Facebook. Temptation is too great, so just shut it all down.

3. Don’t forget your manners!

4. Don’t take an excessive lunch break.

5. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

~Jacki Bryk

Columbia College ’13, English & Comparative Literature

Editor’s Note: I joined New York Women in Communications a year ago and I found the organization to be quite resourceful. This article is very helpful for those who are interested in starting an internship this summer. (Sherria)