When I say ‘be the best intern,’ I really mean, ‘be the best intern the office has ever had.’ Really. You want to leave your mark and set the bar high for any intern that has to follow in your footsteps. I try my best to put everything I have into my internships and leave them knowing I did my best and made an impact while I was there, even if it was only for five days.
I’ve watched a lot of TV shows and movies featuring interns, and the majority of them don’t really show the intern in the best light. They either haven’t a clue, are treated like the office dog or they are the total opposite and are ready to take on the position of CEO. I recently watched the movie, The Intern with Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro, which shows that you don’t have to be between the ages of 16-21 to be an intern. It’s a lovely movie and available to watch on Netflix.
One of my all-time favourite TV series, Grey’s Anatomy, introduces new interns almost every season and they are usually met with an eye-roll and a ‘Ugh, interns’ remark. But as each series goes on, you see who puts the work and effort in and who fails and who succeeds. But the surgery world is quite different to that of an office world – we don’t often have someone’s life in our hands, only their reputation.
When I intern at different places, I always aim to leave an impression. Even if you are only there for a few days, you want them to notice when you leave. From my experience, here are five ways to be the best intern and leave a lasting impression.
1. If you are on time, you are late
Always be early. Be one of the first ones in the office if you like. I arrived on my first working day at my placement year at 8.40am and the office was in darkness. I thought perhaps there was a company meeting that I hadn’t been told about. But slowly, everyone started to arrive. Everyone told me I was ‘eager’ but I didn’t want to be late. I think your co-workers and especially your managers, will appreciate an early-starter than a late-comer.
Home-time has always been a tricky one for me. I never want to be that person that has their coat on and is out the door by one minute past five, but if your working time is 9-5, why is it so difficult to leave at 5 o’clock? In my placement, I was often told to go home as I was usually there long past 5 o’clock, but this was because I always had a lot of work to do and I loved doing it. I think the latest I stayed in the office was 7.30pm when I was about to take a week-long holiday. I didn’t mind, but HR came over to plead with me to hurry up and get on holiday mode.
2. Be efficient
When I’m allocated a task, I do it and do it quickly. At one internship, I was always commended about how quickly I got things done, but I thought I was only going at normal speed. I then wondered what kind of interns had been before me, as the tasks were never too difficult and didn’t take that long to complete.
Don’t rush your work so that you make mistakes, but your manager may be on a deadline or need something done quite quickly so it’s best to complete it as quickly as you can.
3. Do your research
One of the worst things you can do, is to go into an office on your first day, and when asked the question ‘Do you know what we do here?’ say ‘No’. Make sure you research the company before you start and research the team you will be working with. Look them up on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter – see what kind of people they are. That mind sound a little stalker-ish, but the more you know about the people you will be working with, the better prepared you will be.
Make sure you know the company inside and out. Their clients, their competitors and especially the brands you’re going to be working with. Try and find out what the senior people of the company look like before you start, so to not make any embarrassing conversation if you’re stuck with them in an elevator without knowing who they are.
4. Make notes
Always bring a notebook and pen to every internship. Your supervisor/manager might give you a list of things to complete in the morning and you’ll need to note them down. Plus, if she calls you to her desk to ask something or give you a task, you need to write that down too.
No matter how smart you think you are, or how good you think your memory is, you’re very liable to forget something. Write down everything. You’ll thank yourself for it afterwards.
5. Show some enthusiasm
You might only be there for a few days, so show that you want to be there and are keen to learn and to gain experience. Make the most of your time there. Don’t spend each day dreaming about Friday. Ask as many questions as you can as these are people that are in careers that you are aspiring to.
Your body language means a lot. Dress accordingly and be presentable, ask if there’s any more that you can do when you finish your tasks and offer to help out in any other department that may be lacking people. Always do the jobs with a positive attitude and show a willingness to be there. Don’t let it come across that you’re only there because you have to be.
My first internship was my worst. I was afraid to ask questions and did everything that was asked of me and nothing more. I’ve since learnt, that to be memorable, you have to show a real enthusiasm for the company you are interning with and get to know the other people in the office and make connections.
Use your internship time wisely as you never know how useful these connections may be in the future.