Marc Phillips is an IQ Man from Ithaca College and is graduating in May 2013.
Whether you’re at your first internship or on your fourth, it often takes time to adjust to your company’s culture. Depending on the size of the organization and the location, adjusting slowly can hurt you during your internship. In the media business, fast-paced adoption of workplace customs is expected. Here are some tips to help you stay in good standing with your new supervisor and co-workers:
• Always smile or at least keep a pleasant demeanor. If your co-workers are having bad days, your attitude can positively impact the office.
• The only thing worse than body odor is overpowering cologne or perfumes. Unless your office isn’t air conditioned, there is no reason to double up on offensive fragrances. Ask a trusted friend if you cannot find your happy medium.
• It’s easy to ignore a rambling, four-paragraph email from your mother, but pay more attention to your work email inbox. Yes, messages sometimes get lost in the bowels of Outlook, but do your best to keep important emails in a safe folder on your computer.
• It’s not appropriate to keep your cell phone out during work hours—at least at the beginning of your internship. Co-workers often have their phones out since they are receiving high-priority messages. This one’s tricky, but err on the cautious side until you figure out your supervisor’s personality.
• Being an intern does not grant you privilege to come in late, even if you don’t have much work to complete. The only time you should adjust your schedule is if you’re very sick.
• You may work on tasks that are not yet public knowledge in your workplace. Close or minimize windows on your computer and keep printed documents out of sight when not in use. I learned the hard way—the IT department pointed this out me on the second day of work. Oops!
• Learn how to be helpful without seeming overbearing. For example, if you see a co-worker sitting at their desk on lunch break, wait until they’re done if you have a question about your project. We all want some downtime.
• Are you lucky enough to have a friendly supervisor? Engage in non-work related conversations from time-to-time. You never know what movies or music you both like. Bonding with a supervisor can work to your advantage!
• If you’re at an unpaid internship, do not go in with a defeatist attitude. Work like you’re getting paid—because if you work well enough you might get hired upon graduation!
• This should go without saying, but do not post negative comments about your internship online. If you have an issue, work with your supervisor or human resources to reach an agreement. Keep your #InternProblems off Twitter!