Professional Development

Internship etiquette: the do’s and don’ts guide

internship etiquette
Written by Guest Contributor

You may be reading this moments before your first day as an intern and are nervously wondering, “What exactly is proper intern etiquette?” First off, congrats on the internship! You must have done something right to land the position. Now, just try not to mess it up.

Just kidding. Actually, it’s important to remember that employers create internship programs as an opportunity for learning. Along the way, mistakes are going to be made and that’s not a bad thing – as long as you learn from them. In an effort to lessen your stress and increase your chance for success, here’s some do’s and don’ts to help you navigate the murky waters of interning.

Do seek feedback

It is crucial for an intern to seek feedback from their supervisor. It demonstrates that you are coachable. Seeking feedback takes all of the guesswork out of how so you can “wow” your boss. Feedback allows you to improve and learn how you can add value. As an intern, seeking feedback will communicate to your boss that you are highly self-aware and motivated to improve.

Do clarify expectations

Clarifying expectations is crucial as an intern. Telling the hiring team exactly what you want out of the internship is going to ensure that you are not coming to a job every day that you hate. No boss intentionally makes an intern’s job miserable. The majority of the time an unfulfilling internship is a result of individuals not clarifying exactly what they want out of the job. If you want to get better at presentations, tell your boss that. They want to teach you about what you want to learn and more.

Don’t gossip

Not only is gossiping at work unprofessional, but it also creates a toxic environment.  Gossiping damages trust and will have your coworkers hesitant to share things with you. As an intern, you may hear your manager gossiping about others in the office, but that does not warrant you to join in. Avoid joining in on gossip, and ensure you are doing everything in your power to avoid being the target of gossip. Dressing appropriate, not oversharing, and being mindful of what you post on social media are all effective ways to avoid being the topic of workplace gossip.

Don’t be dependent

No supervisor wants to apprehensively hand their intern a pile of work, worrying if it will actually get done or not. In the workplace today, task-oriented jobs are seizing to exist – and so are bosses who micromanage. Be confident in your abilities to complete a task, large or small. Use this time as an intern to be independent.

Don’t neglect networking

Offering to take your other fellow interns to lunch during the week is a nice gesture, but not the key to getting yourself a full-time offer once your internship is up. It’s crucial, as an intern, to network with the other full-time employees at the office. This could be your direct boss or other members of the full-time team. However, this does not mean to just have surface level relationships with a variety of people. The most useful networks are those with strong ties. The more someone knows you and believes in you, the more likely they will be to vouch for you, think of you first when an opportunity opens, and be a reference to add to your resume.


About the Author:
Margaret Foley is a senior at Texas Christian University, where she is majoring in Communications Studies and minoring in English and Graphic Design. She is currently interning at Varghese Summersett, a criminal defense law firm in Fort Worth, Texas.
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