The 10 commandments of being an intern

By Hannah Roberts

Congratulations! The hard work has paid off and you’ve successfully managed to bag yourself the internship of your dreams (or near enough). Here to ensure that this is the start of something truly special; our ten commandments of being an intern.

1. Do your homework
As with most things in life, preparation is key. Ensure you’ve done your background reading on not only the industry and the company but your position; the tasks you’re likely to be learning about and the activities you’re likely to be involved in. The original internship specification should be a good point of reference for this, if there’s a term on there you haven’t come across before; research it. If your position is in any way related to marketing, ensure you’ve familiarised yourself with the company’s social platforms and overall brand. Any evidence of putting in the groundwork prior to your arrival on your first day will be warmly welcomed by your employer.

2. Make a strong professional impression
First impressions count. Make sure you greet everyone with a confident hand shake and smile, maintain eye contact and introduce yourself to anyone you haven’t met. You should have got a good idea of appropriate office attire from your interview, but if in doubt always opt for the smarter option. Simple things such as arriving on time every day and keeping your work station tidy will help to portray you in a positive light too.

3. Ask questions
If there’s something you’re unsure about, ask. It’s far better to ask for help on something than to sit twiddling your thumbs. Actively seeking help will also demonstrate your readiness to learn, thus contribute to that overall positive impression.

4. Make yourself indispensable
Don’t just wait for work to be handed to you; if you’ve not got anything to do ask your mentor if there’s something that you can assist with. If there’s another area of the company you think you could contribute to, offer. No matter how small and insignificant, even something as simple as answering a ringing phone can make an impact. This is particularly relevant with start-up companies who often favour a hands-on attitude in candidates.

5. Get involved
Building a strong relationship with your team and colleagues is essential. Making an effort to attend out-of-hours events and being sociable in and around the office will help to establish you within the team, reinforcing the impression that you’re someone they wouldn’t want to let go.

6. Demonstrate commitment
Openly seeking alternative work will only reflect badly on you. This is not to say that you shouldn’t keep your options open; but if you are, be discreet about it. Although you won’t find it listed in ‘ideal candidate qualities’, loyalty is an attribute that will take you far. Similarly, if you are enjoying the role show this to your employers, demonstrate commitment in any way you can; there is always the potential of a full- time position.

7. Network
Not just with your team, but with the connections and company affiliates that you come across during your internship. Introduce yourself, do your best to make a positive impact and follow up with a connection at a later date, either via LinkedIn or Twitter. You never know when such contacts may come in handy.

8. Remember your purpose
The purpose of an internship is for you to learn and gain hands-on industry experience in your area of interest. One of the best ways of learning is through feedback. If your employer isn’t readily providing you with this, give them a nudge. Taking on board feedback from employers will only help to develop you and your overall performance; take note of constructive criticism and think of ways to improve from it.

9. Speak up
Ensuring you get the most out of your internship is key. If, for whatever reason, you don’t feel like you’re benefiting as much as you could from the experience or the internship is not matching what you had agreed with the organisation; say something. If you’re really not enjoying your position, you are under no obligation to stay. Don’t waste your time by staying in a role that is not going to further your career.

10. Parting ways
The important thing to keep at the forefront of your mind throughout your internship is that you get out of the experience only what you put in. What you take away at the end of the three months will be a reflection of your efforts. Hopefully this will be in the form of a job offer but if you’re not successful in this, that doesn’t mean to say doors have not been opened. You’ll be provided with a reference (it’s also worth asking if they mind providing you with a LinkedIn recommendation that will be visible in your profile for potential employers) which will only support your future applications. Parting on a positive note and thanking your company for the experience is essential, securing the foundations for a future relationship. Taking a creative approach such as blogging about your experience and what you learnt is an inventive way of not only giving a nod to the company but also a great way of demonstrating what skills you’ve gained to potential employers.

Hannah is a Digital Marketing Executive at Inspiring. She tweets about all things golden here: @hlcroberts and pins all things pretty here: gildthelilly. You can also connect with Hannah on Google+