Your first internship can be just as scary as it is exciting. When you have no experience in an office setting or doing the actual work you’re studying in school, it’s easy to feel lost or incapable. Follow these five tips, and you’ll be set to succeed inside the office and out.
1. Learn to be professional.
Employee interactions in an office are going to be much different from those you practiced working in retail or food service. Talking to “real adults” can be scary when you don’t have much experience speaking in an especially articulate manner with your bosses and co-workers. Try asking for tips from your parents or even brush up your articulation when you book appointments at the doctor’s office or the salon. Keeping a professional, articulate demeanor will impress your boss and help you become more confident.
2. Ask questions.
I fully subscribe to the idea that there are truly no dumb questions when you’re an intern. You have been hired to assist higher-ups, but your employers also want you to learn. It’s much better to ask a question that might have an obvious answer than to make an incorrect decision that will end up reflecting poorly on your abilities. Asking for full clarification shows that you are committed to doing good, detail-oriented work.
3. Use a planner.
Every internship will demand attention to detail, which can be incredibly difficult when you’re trying to get the hang of office culture and the actual tasks you do in your position. By using a checklist or planner, you won’t forget any of your responsibilities. Even tasks as minute as replacing the staples in a stapler are important to complete--relieving your boss of one more worry will not only make you look good, but make your boss less stressed.
If you’ve gotten the job, chances are you sounded confident enough in your own abilities during your interview that your employer is preemptively confident in you. Being skittish and timid makes those around you feel like they have something to be nervous about as well. You’re not “just” an intern. You contribute to the environment of the office just as much as anyone else, especially since there will likely be a large team of people looking to you for assistance.
5. Relax, again.
Not only do you need to relax for the sake of others, you should relax for your own benefit. Losing sleep over your job is miserable. While it’s important to throw yourself into your work, you must also understand that it does not define who you are or how good of a person you might be. So much pressure is placed on young people to forgo meals and substitute sleep with more coffee, grinding ourselves to the bone in order to jump ahead in our careers. It’s simply not worth it.