‘Do’s and don’ts’ lists are cliché – I am well aware. We have all heard advice along the lines of, “Always be on your ‘A’ game”, “Dress for success”, “Don’t be late to meetings.” Sigh. So why did I accept the challenge to write such a list? Well, not only am I always up for a challenge, but I have taken this opportunity as a Student Intern Blogger to compile the meaningful advice I have gained directly from my supervisors and personal experiences so far, as a Marketing Intern at Domino’s Pizza. My hope is that this ‘do’s and don’ts’ list will not only be insightful, but inspire you to bring more than just your ‘A’ game to your internship. Let’s get started.
- Always wear a watch
- Using a watch is much more subtle than checking your phone every 5 minutes. Besides, looking at your phone for the time could be easily misinterpreted for texting or social media browsing, and you don’t want to give your employer or colleagues the opportunity to make these assumptions.
- Memorize the names and faces of the Executive Board members
- You absolutely cannot be the intern that does not recognize the CEO or Vice President of the company. Know their faces, so that when you see them in passing you can acknowledge them accordingly.
- Take note of the general ages of people in the company
- Is the company mostly young professionals? If so, this is likely a sign of their culture, and an indication of your career’s longevity within the company. Use this opportunity to get a sense of your future career path with this company.
- Shadow people in different areas of expertise
- Networking with individuals in other sectors of the company is a great way to make further connections and learn more about others’ day-to-day tasks. Perhaps you’ll learn that what they do for a living interests you even more than your current job! For me, this has led to additional connections on LinkedIn and opportunities to sit in on meetings I wouldn’t have previously been able to.
- Observe individuals who are in positions you aspire to hold
- Are their careers stagnant? Did their career plateau? What are the expectations with their job? These observations will allow you to decide if the job you are positing as the “job of your dreams”, truly is the job of your dreams.
- Don’t forget to bring a pen and pad of paper to meetings
- Even if you are doing a quick one-on-one meeting, always have a pen and paper to take notes or jot your ideas down on. You never know when you’re going to have an epiphany!
- Don’t bring your work laptop home every night
- This was the first piece of advice I received from my boss. While you may feel that bringing home your laptop indicates your strong work ethic, the gesture may actually come off as the opposite. Instead, bringing home your laptop daily may indicate that you are not able to manage your work time accordingly. Talk about a misunderstanding…
- “Optional” meetings or events are never optional
- Take advantage of every opportunity you have as an intern. Your supervisors want you to get involved (and are taking notes to see if you do!) Further, your additional involvement will set you apart from the other interns.
- Don’t contribute just to contribute
- A professor at the University of Michigan told me that you cannot be the one person in a meeting with nothing to say. Be an active participant – pose questions, make comments. In all, ensure what comes out of your mouth is meaningful.
- Don’t become too relaxed
- Another excellent piece of advice I received early on in my internship. While it is encouraged and acceptable to be friendly and converse with your boss, at the end of the day they hold a higher level of authority and deserve the appropriate respect.
In the end, it is important to keep in mind that the company you are working for has high hopes for all of their interns. Don’t stress! They’re rooting for you, and so am I.