Thursday, February 21, 2013

Advice for the Interns

Last month, on my job, a group of fourteen enthusiastic interns started. This is the first group in our newly revamped Internship program. While they are an eager bunch, some co-workers have been a little frustrated. What they forget is that they are dealing with college students and not seasoned professionals. It is our job to get them where they need to be professionally. I thought I’d share some of the advice I shared with them with you all.

  1. Separate the social and the personal. Since we spend more time at work than we do anywhere else, it is natural to bond with co-workers. Establishing strong social relationships makes work easier and more enjoyable. However, there is a difference between being social and being personal. Be amenable. Be friendly – but do not freely share personal information and situations. Remember, the root word of co-worker is work.
  2. Take Initiative. Don’t wait to be told, if you see something that needs to be done, do it. If you don’t understand something, don’t wait until a problem arises, ask. Do not get in the bad habit of saying, “That’s not in my job description.”  People that utter that phrase are the same people whining about being passed over for promotions.
  3. As much as you want to change the world, you won’t. You might want to revamp the way an entire department is working. Even if your ideas are better, as the new kid on the block take a moment and look around. As an intern, you are working with people who have been working longer than you’ve been alive. There are habits, personalities, behaviors and culture that you must contend with. Before bulldozing everyone with all of your superior ideas, take the time to really understand your surroundings and the people you are working with first.
  4. Recognize that everyone has something to contribute. It is easy to think that you are more educated, more driven or more focused than someone else … and that might be true. However, respect the fact that other people bring something to the table as well and there is always something that another person can teach us. There is no place for a condescending attitude at work.
  5. Be a sponge. Learn as much as you can about the work you are doing and the people you are working with. Take note of best practices as well as things you might do differently. Realize that the end of school is not the end of education. There is always something to be learned. Situations and circumstances are always changing and that alone means there will always be something to learn. Be a lifetime learner.

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