This blog post was written by Brian Ashburn, our Campus Ambassador from Minnesota State University Moorhead.
A few days ago, I was watching one of the best romantic comedies of the decade, “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” In it, Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey unwittingly battle to prove how (and how not) to sustain a relationship. And after being a full-time intern immersed in my work for the past six months, I had a revelation: internships are like relationships.
Think about it, if you put in the right amount of time, energy and care, it can lead to something great; if you act in an ignorant or disrespectful way, the single, unemployed life is calling your name. Following my own experiences and those of Kate and Matthew, here are ten ways to ensure your relationship status on LinkedIn remains “employed.”
1. The pick-up line. Before you even get the internship, you have to apply. Think of your résumé like that perfect pick-up line to seal the deal. It needs to be well crafted, unique and have the ability to leave a lasting impression. If you are successful, you’ll get the “number.”
2. Now comes the first date. Personally, I don’t know what is more nerve-wracking, an interview or a first date. From how you dress to how you carry yourself, it all matters. Show them who you are and why you care. Exude confidence, not cockiness; nothing turns a potential employer (or date) off more than a self-righteous, know-it-all attitude. Being yourself is the best way to go. Also, you may want to remember a breath mint.
3. Express interest. After that important first interaction, show gratitude. Send a thank you card or an email expressing enthusiasm. Play it cool though: nothing ends a relationship quicker than fifteen emails, ten calls, and an inbox full of texts. Have faith! They’ll call.
4. You got the job! Hook, line and sinker, you’ve made it through the doors. The first day is like the crucial second date -- make sure they don’t regret their decision. Be early, be prepared, and be excited to be there.
5. Be curious, yet cautious. The people whom surround you in the office have the knowledge and expertise that you covet. Find the right times to ask questions and learn more about the business. Just don’t pry or ask at inappropriate times… nobody likes a Nosey Nancy.
6. That being said, don’t be clingy. Maintain the social graces that got you the job throughout the whole relationship. Being overeager, overly inquisitive or disingenuous will leave a bad impression and a bitter taste.
7. Show them you care. It never hurts to go the extra mile for those people in your life that matter. If you’re going to Starbucks, buy your boss a latte. Offer to take them to lunch. When you’re liked, people are more apt to give you advice, recommendations or jobs.
8. Keep up your image. Dress to impress each and every day; you never know who is watching. Moreover, nobody likes to date a slob. If your desk is a disaster or you leave the office kitchen in shambles, people won’t respect you as much. You share the space, so always maintain your respectfulness.
9. Don’t lose the spark. If you complain about getting coffee, they’ll hear. If you show up late, they’ll notice. If you have Facebook up at all times, they’ll see. Internships, like relationships, can have an expiration date; if you prove yourself to be expendable, they won’t even consider keeping you on board. Commit, and they’ll appreciate you for it.
10. Time to part ways: the internship is finished and a job proposal didn’t transpire. Maybe it was them, not you. Maybe they aren’t ready to hire you full time now, but perhaps in the future it might work out. Hand-written thank you notes are a simple and effective way to leave on a high note (but please don’t do that in an actual relationship). Let them know how much you appreciated the time you had there. Don’t bash them on Twitter or complain on Facebook. Cordiality is professional and respectable, and it will make you come out as the good guy.
A few extra tips that would also apply to both internships and relationships, courtesy of Kate and Matthew: don’t publicly embarrass yourself and everyone around you; don’t throw tantrums in public; and try not to talk to plants. But more importantly, if you remember to be yourself, be confident, and be cognizant of your surroundings, you can’t go wrong. Whether it’s landing the internship of your dreams or the person of your dreams, best of luck!