The time has come, you're about to start your internship. You've arrived at the building where you'll be working for the next few weeks or perhaps months. There are offices, conference rooms, colleagues, superiors and now you! The "newbie". The question is, how should you act and find your bearings in this new workplace, perhaps even a completely new world? You've finally managed to get an internship after a long search and various interviews, but now it's time to make a positive and lasting impression. Discover a few attitudes all good interns should adopt.
1. Show off your interpersonal skills
This means finding the behavior that best suits the company and adapting accordingly. A company is an economic and social place where, as an employee, you need to set and acheive objectives. However, it is also a social place. It's your human qualities and the way you behave with your peers that can decide what kind of impression you make. It's for this reason that you should be polite at all times: saying "hello", "thank you" or "have a nice evening" doesn't make you a suck-up and no one's going to tell you off for being too polite! Put your human qualities to good use depending on the situation: Be positive, curious, ready to give a helping hand, take initiative and be flexible.
2. Respect the company culture and codes
It doesn't matter if you're working in a small, medium or multinational company - you must respect company culture. Company culture is defined by a mix of different rules, ethical and moral codes, along with other shared values. It doesn't just mean arriving at work on time, but could also come in the form of customer service procedures, collective beliefs or dress codes. Company culture is different for each company. In Ireland, for example, "casual Friday" is a tradition which allows employees to come to work in more relaxed clothing. Company culture is a powerful notion which can have a huge effect on employee behaviour. I'd like to share a little anecdote with you: The average age at the company where I carried out my internship was 35 years old. There was tea, coffee, and often free snacks in the kitchen so that we could go and serve ourselves when and if we felt like it. One day, my supervisor asked me to go and buy a bottle of milk and I did just it! Not because I didn't have a choice and I felt pressurized into it, but because I wanted to be helpful. The agency I worked at was so cool that I couldn't refuse. Believe me, when you're part of a company, you also become part of its culture.
3. Know-how: Put your skills to good use
Work is a place of performance so make sure you put your skills to good use. An internship is a real-life situation and your skills are the tools you need to carry out your various missions. Are you good with Office, creating and sending email campaigns, carrying out market research or community management? It's your time to shine! Don't forget that you are being evaluated in many different ways. It's up to you to evaluate the situation and act accordingly!
4. Bond with your colleagues
It can be hard to feel comfortable during the first few days of your internship. Certain companies put measures in place to help you intergrate more easily whereas others don't. You only have to look at the offices of big names to imagine what the atmosphere must be like from day one: from ping pong tables and table football to slides and more. If you're offered the chance to play a game of table tennis, why not? (during your break, of course). Try to relax when you get the chance, but know how to be serious when you have to be. It's also pretty common for colleagues to meet up after work for a drink and if you are invited you should definitely go! It's a great way to bond with your colleagues and build a professional network. It could pay off some day when you're looking for a job.
5. The four qualities that make a difference
Far from being skills, here are four attitudes that will help you become a good intern: Communicate - when in doubt, ask your supervisor for help. You're in a real-life situation with real-life consequences. You will be forgiven for a couple of mistakes. Be responsable - Try to repect deadlines, whether they are given to you or you set them yourself. If you are running a little late, it's important to warn your supervisor. Be flexible - if you want to leave a good impression, you will need to go above and beyond what is expected of you. Be enterprising - Once your tasks are completed, don't start twiddling your thumbs. Think "outside the box", what could you do to help your company? Do you have any suggestions regarding work methods or tips to increase the productivity of your colleagues? If the answer is yes, share your ideas.
6. Your passport to employment
Do you feel as though you have been a good intern? Don't forget to ask for a letter of recommendation. It can come automatically for certain supervisors, whereas it can slip the minds of others, or at least we hope so - for your sake. There you go, now you have all the advice you need to be a good intern!
Still haven't found your dream internship? Check out Wizbii to find thousands of internships in the UK and abroad!
Article written for Wizbii by Nicolas Nguyen, translated into English by Cherie Gamble.