What NOT to Do in an Internship

Avoiding work is one thing you should NOT do at an internship.

Flickr user Sarah

Internships are invaluable experiences that can help you develop skills in a relevant field, create a network of business contacts, potentially earn some money for your work, and build up your resume.

But in order to gain any of these benefits, you have to be willing to work hard. There are definitely some habits and attitudes to avoid while interning, and we’ve listed just a few out here:


Try Avoiding Work

This may go without saying, but if you’re hired on as an intern, you have to take on the responsibilities that go with it. If your job description includes entering data into a computer, don’t try avoiding work by goofing off on Twitter all day and miss your deadlines or quota. If your job involves filing things away, don’t just jam out to your music and “forget” to file an entire box of things. Do your work. It’s why you were hired in the first place.

Show Up Late

Punctuality is important, especially if you’re paid hourly. Even if you’re not, you should still observe the expected start time. Rolling up to work twenty minutes late can be seen as a sign of laziness or disrespect. Being tardy once or twice is understandable, but if it becomes a habit don’t expect a glowing recommendation letter. Show up on time.

Disregard Office Rules

All workplaces have a set of established rules, whether written or unwritten. While they can change from place to place, it’s important to know what is accepted and what’s not. For example, it’s safe to assume you shouldn’t eat something in the fridge that isn’t yours. If your boss doesn’t allow you to listen to music while you work, don’t be a rebel and sneak the earbuds under your hair. If you’re uncertain if something’s ok, just ask.

Isolate Yourself / Pester Everyone All the Time

Even if your intern role is a largely independent one, don’t just tuck yourself into a corner. Socialize with your colleagues, check in with your supervisor, make sure you communicate regularly and clearly with any team-members you collaborate with.

On the flip-side, it’s also not good to be overbearing or overly needy. Your fellow workers also have jobs to do, after all, and won’t be able to hold your hand through everything. If you’re sociable with your co-workers, just make sure you don’t go too far off topic for too long. A break is good, a chatty marathon is not.

Keep Ideas or Questions to Yourself

Speak up! An intern is never just a coffee-running grunt worker. If you have a question or an issue, make sure you ask someone about it! It’s important to be a self-sufficient problem solver, but you won’t be able to solve every single thing on your own. So don’t be shy.

You also bring a unique perspective to the workplace, so if you have an idea, be bold and put it out there. You may be surprised to find others like the idea or hadn’t thought of something that way before.

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