You successfully powered your way through the interview stages and were offered the internship of your choice. Now, the “moment of truth” has arrived and the next day is your 1st day of your internship. Entering into the working world can be a scary moment for even the best of us. Similar to a lot of other aspects of life, a little preparation and reading goes a long way to ensure you learn the basic office etiquette that enables you to start excelling at work from Day one.
1. Be professional
Professionalism is the center of any individual who wishes to succeed at work. It covers a lot of areas such as the way you conduct yourself, email manners and integrity in your work. As a general rule, interns should be aware of the importance of beginning their emails with the proper salutations.
Unless instructed otherwise by your supervisor, interns should start their emails with Mr or Mrs and use the magical “please” and “thank you” when communicating. This same principle applies for in-person conversations as well.Being professional also means taking your work seriously. Supervisors will give interns a variety of work, from the basic to possibly even supporting the manager in an important assignment.
Take this as an opportunity to learn. Be like a sponge and absorb all the professional knowledge that is on hand.
2. Positive Attitude Goes a Long Way
Positive attitude is contagious. We all have been there where if we are together with a positive person, the whole environment turns positive and you begin to feel more positive. Your colleagues will come in all shapes and form. Some will be really positive, while some can be really negative.
Interns should strive to maintain a positive attitude in front of colleagues. This would mean being friendly, optimistic, and maintaining your calm during stressful moments. While there may be office politics surrounding you and employees gossiping to you about their experiences in the company, try to stay away from that. As long as you show up, do a good job and maintain an upbeat attitude, the entire internship will be a huge success.
3. Learn Names
Dale Carnegie, a world-famous writer once stated that “A person’s name, to that person, is the sweetest, most important sound in any language”. He was accurate on that. As humans, our names is a reflection of us. Just like how you would like people to address you by your name (rather than a generic salutation such as “Sir” or “Madam”), others would also expect likewise.At the workplace, interns will get the opportunity to interact with a lot of people.
Some may be your team members and bosses, while others may just be colleagues from other departments. To truly stand out at work and make people take notice of your ability, first impressions are key. Try to make it a point to remember people’s names. A simple trick is to repeat that persons’ name once he/she introduces themselves to you.
Alternatively, most offices have online office directory where you can see the person’s name together with their photo. Hence, if you are more of a visual person, that trick may help you to recall names better.
4. Dress for Success
In school, the attire was already given to us. In university, it was more flexible and it can range from office attire, to jeans, to even just a simple shirt with shorts. However, in the working world, everyone is expected to dress appropriately, including interns. While there are guidelines in place for dressing, but it still requires some interpretation. In short, “dress for success” is a motto that is commonly heard in the working place.
As a general rule, for men, an ironed business shirt, a matching tie, black slacks and black shoes. For the women, a tucked in blouse, knee length dresses/skirt and high heels (or flat shoes) is considered appropriate. Cartoon-theme ties, torn slack, mini skirt, baggy pants and anything that you may wear to a beach is generally disallowed at the workplace.
5. Avoid Social Media Usage
Social media today has become as common as eating and drinking. Almost everyone with a smartphone has the usual social media apps installed (Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, etc). We may be tempted to use social media in any setting, including at work.
Most companies have already embraced social media and some (especially startups) have encouraged employees to use social media to promote the company and its products. However, as a word of caution, interns should lay off social media at work as the main purpose you are there is to do a job within working hours. Save the social media for lunch breaks and after work. This will go a long way to leaving a good and lasting impression with your employer. It may even turn into a job offer once you have graduated!