Entering the world of internships can be absolutely terrifying- the applying and interviewing stages are stressful enough, and then you’re thrown into a new company with dozens of employees who typically seem much older, more experienced, and incredibly wiser than you are. You may feel a lot of pressure to be exceptional at your job, especially when your supervisor starts talking about how great the intern before you was.
Luckily, you don’t have to create a new customer management system or single-handedly grow a company’s social engagement by 140% to be a rock star intern (and don’t stress- your supervisor doesn’t expect you to!). You can, however, stand out from your peers and impress the entire office just by doing a couple of little things.
Dress for success
No matter what your office culture is or what you see others wearing, always put time and effort into looking professional at your internship. Aside from following the company’s dress code (which you obviously must do), take pride in the little things such as ironing your shirts and making sure your skirts aren’t too tight. And just because a manager walks in wearing jeans and a t-shirt doesn’t mean you should, too. One day when you’re a manager you may have that luxury, but right now you need to show everyone that you’re serious about this position. Putting effort in to how you look shows your coworkers that you’re also willing to put effort into your work. Not to mention, you feel more confident when you’re dressed nicely versus when you look like you’re ready for bed and Netflix.
For a business casual office, I recommend wearing black pants and nice tops with a blazer or cardigan. If you’re internship is more casual, still dress a little nicer than everyone else. Skip the sneakers and flannels and instead opt for dark jeans, a cute top and flats. Also err on the side of conservative when it comes to hairstyles and makeup. Save that for the weekend.
Arrive on time (or even better, early!)
Ever heard of the sayings, “Showing up is half the battle” or “80 percent of success is just showing up”? There’s a whole lot of truth in them. It seems like common sense, but many college students don’t take their internship schedule seriously because they don’t feel like “real” employees because they aren’t getting paid. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Showing up when you’re supposed to, and earlier if possible, shows your supervisor and coworkers that you’re organized and serious about this internship. You don’t want to be known as the intern who is always late.
Complete all assignments eagerly
Sometimes your supervisor will give you really interesting and challenging assignments; other times, not so much. While spending your day organizing the office storage room doesn’t seem like a way to show your worth as a potential employee, it absolutely does. Complaining and sulking about not-so-exciting tasks will only lead to more boring assignments in the future. Even if you do a stellar job on some of your more difficult tasks, how you act about the less glamorous assignments says more to your supervisor about what kind of employee you might be in the future. Accept all assignments with a smile, ask questions if you are unsure of something, and complete the assignment as best you can. By excelling in these smaller tasks you’ll show your supervisor your strong work ethic, which could potentially lead to more exciting work in the future.
Keep your workspace clean
Whether you have your own desk or share a table with other interns or employees, keep this area free of clutter and junk. Not only will a clean space show your supervisor and coworkers that you’re organized, it gives you a usable workspace that you’ll be happier and more relaxed at. You’ve probably made your own conclusions about people based on their desks, so use yours to give coworkers the right impression about you. Keep documents filed neatly and pens in their designated place. Avoid bringing too many personal photos to decorate your desk- this isn’t your 7th grade locker. Another word of advice: don’t keep confidential documents in plain sight. Anything that someone on the street shouldn’t know about your company needs to be in a drawer or in a folder.
With some hard work and good habits, becoming an amazing intern will be easier than you think. Good luck on all your future internship endeavors!
Megan Randolph is a senior marketing major currently living in Nashville, TN. She’s dedicated to helping fellow marketing majors succeed at their internships and their classes. When she isn’t interning, blogging, or studying, you’ll find her at the gym or baking chocolate chip cookies, which she’ll then eat for breakfast the next day. You can find her on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram!