When you start any new job or internship you are expected to make mistakes and endure a learning curve of some sort. Most people take at least 2-3 months to adjust to any new internship or job opportunity. So during those “training” months your immediate supervisor is kind, understanding, and pretty gentile with you in terms of helping, guiding, and showing you the right way to do things. Ironically enough, it’s usually when you start to do things right consistently that the honeymoon phase ends. All of a sudden, you make a mistake and it’s not all peaches and cream – your boss is mad! This person knows you can do the job – they watched you get trained – and now they have high expectations – they expect you to do the job right the first time.
So what do you do once the honeymoon stage has passed? How do you handle yourself once your boss doesn’t feel her or she needs to play “nicely” anymore? Here are a few ideas on how to handle yourself AFTER the Honeymoon phase:
1. Vocalize Your Mistakes. When you scolded for doing something wrong, don’t just say “I know”. You want to repeat to your boss what the mistake was and clearly state that you know it’s a big deal, feel awful, and will do what it takes to fix the mistake. If you know what it will take to fix the mistake – say that! At my first job, I assumed my boss knew I was apologetic. She later told me that I didn’t seem apologetic at all. Sometimes you think you are wearing your heart and expressions on your sleeve but they just aren’t that apparent to other people.
2. Write Everything Down. This is one of those rules that everyone follows at the beginning of their internship when they are learning how to do everything but quickly stops once you feel comfortable. You should ALWAYS write everything down. Whenever your boss calls you in – bring a pen and paper. It doesn’t matter if its day 1 or your last day – should them you care by taking notes on what they say. I used to think I could remember EVERYTHING – time and time again I’ve proved that I can’t.
3. Don’t Get Too Comfortable. Comfortable at work is a scary phrase because it usually means you’ve let your guard down and you aren’t as open to learning and over-performing as you once were. The second you feel like you are getting too comfortable at work – give yourself a new project or a new challenge. You always want to stay on point.
4. Don’t Stop Networking. Again, people get comfortable at their internships and they stop networking. Don’t let any opportunities pass you by. You never know who at the company knows about different job openings or has different connections. Over the course of your internship, challenge yourself to build a relationship with at least one new person in the office each week.
5. Take A Weekend or Evening or Early Morning to Clean. Your desk will get messy over the course of the internship. A messy desk reflects poorly on your work ethic. It makes you appear unorganized if you are the most organized person in the world. Come in early one morning and just get yourself organized –file any papers sitting on your desk – take out the trash – I promise you will feel better and the people you work or intern for will appreciate it.
For more tips on how to rock your internship, read my internship book, ALL WORK, NO PAY.