1. Print, copy, staple, repeat #busywork.
Turn “busy work” into “network”. If you find yourself running all over the office for anyone and everyone who needs a few basic tasks done, make a point to learn names. Grab an office map, give it more than just one glance and get to know that guy who asks you to make copies. Browse a few LinkedIn pages, chat about the Disney frames on the desk and build your network. “Print-a-lot guy” may turn out to be Joe from Syracuse and suddenly you have more to say than “stapled or paper-clipped?”
If where you’re interning now doesn’t suit your career terms and conditions, Beth by the window may have a sister willing to get you an interview at your dream company.
So get out there, you social butterfly, you.
2. Lunch hour is just any other hour…with munchies by my computer.
Lunch is your mental getaway. Make it a physical getaway too. Join the other interns for pizza on the patio, or venture out of the office for sushi. Your fellow interns, despite being in different departments, may have some useful tips on dealing with that one challenging manager.
Studies show that employees generally need to detach from their work and their work space to recharge, which in turn increases productivity. Try to take a break before reaching the absolute bottom of your mental barrel. You’ll know your dropping to the bottom when you begin drifting and daydreaming of the freebies in the kitchen. Engage with something other than a screen. Go on a walk. Joke with the other interns. Heck, grab an ice cream cone, you deserve it!
3. Just spent the last 4 hours doing something wrong…
Don’t forget you’re here tolearn. You messed up? Jot a Post-it to stick in your cubicle as a “hey don’t do this again” reminder. Follow up with your project manager for more details if you found that the directions were unclear the first time around. Apologize to your supervisor, if necessary, and start again, eliminating all feelings of failure, because…
…What if the secret to success is failure? The truth is, you usually have to fail to succeed. No one simply emerges at the top. Even those born into fortune eventually get a turn on the wheel of adversity. Anyone with a résumé of accomplishments also has a résumé of failures, humiliations and setbacks. Need we remind you of the classic list of failures-gone-famous? Steve Jobs was fired by the company he co-founded and Bill Gates didn’t even go to college. Shake it off and rock it the second (or third…or seventh) time around.
4. Every time I sit in on a conference call it’s like everyone is speaking another language. #confused #whatsgoingon
As pointless as it may seem, take notes anyway. Chances are, the subject material will eventually be made clear, just not now. Even if you never hear the client’s name again, be grateful you have the chance to engage in observational learning. Take notes not just on the content, but the interaction. The professionals you are interning with are getting paid to be professional, so learn from them.
At one of my old internships, I sat in on a Work In Progress (WIP) meeting on my very first day. I didn’t understand the whirlwind of concepts, plans, and deadlines. Regardless, I stayed focused and took mental notes of the tone of the meeting, who was present and most importantly, if it was acceptable to bring coffee and breakfast (I don’t do morning interactions without coffee). The following week, I looked back on my notes, learned a few things and actually contributed to WIP. Trust me, the feeling of finally understanding is a good one.
5. When your boss gives you no work and you’ve already completed all your tasks #whatnow
Easy. Ask for more work! If your direct supervisor doesn’t have anything, drop by a nearby desk or spark a conversation with another intern to see if anyone needs a hand. If you find yourself incessantly probing your boss, lay off, and learn what it means to be a self-starter.
Informal. A person who begins work or undertakes a project on his or her own initiative, without needing to be told or encouraged to do so.
Our generation — millennials, as they may call us — is accustomed to a constant state of feedback. Swamped with social media likes, comments and interactions of all kinds, we find ourselves continuously yearning for some sort of response in essentially every aspect of our lives. Amanda Augustine, job search expert at TheLadders, a comprehensive job-matching service, recently spoke to Mashable about self-sufficiency:
The biggest thing you have to understand is that you’re in charge of managing your own career. Employers are not necessarily expecting you to have a complete set of hard skills already under your belt, but you need to be a self-starter in your first role. Don’t assume that your boss is going to be your mentor and your coach. Figure out the right frequency with which to approach your manager, and the right channel — and figure out if there are other people you can talk to instead of going straight to your boss.
6. #internproblems when everyone in the office asks you to do something ALL AT THE SAME TIME
It’s tough to prioritize when everything seems to be a priority. But, fear not, it can be done! Keep in mind, it’s crucial to get the details from each project manager such as deadline, rough drafts and presentation dates. The following are simplistic rules to keep each project on track:
- Create a list:As soon as you take that first sip of coffee, write down everything that needs to get done that day. Once you have everything down, separate the items into urgent vs. non-urgent to determine the top priorities for that day.
- Be honest with yourself. Be realistic about your bandwidth. Setting unattainable goals will only cause frustration later on.
- Stay flexible: You must be able to adapt to changing priorities. If a project manager tells you the deadline was moved up three hours, keep your cool and be thankful you have a list to fall back on.
- Make sure to manage your time on each project. As a perfectionist, I sometimes struggle with this the most. Don’t get caught up in the details and end up spending way too much time on a project or task. Acknowledge when you’re doing this and enforce strict deadlines to prevent yourself from going down the rabbit hole.
7. Half the time I’m working, half the time I’m pretending to look like I’m working #socialmediaaddict
Whether you’re checking out Kimye’s recent adventures on Buzzfeed or adding your opinion to the #WeStillLoveYouJustinBeiber trend on Twitter, distractions are distractions. It’s time to eliminate the hustle and bustle and get down to business https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSS5dEeMX64 Mulan-style. You have things to work on (if you don’t think you do, see #5) so work. Find background music that keeps you in the zone.
My coworkers and I share an office — we call it the War Room — and when you enter, you’ll often hear the soothing voice of Lana Del Ray. Bring in headphones and keep your focus one step ahead on your daily to-do list. If you can’t seem to stay off Tumblr, visit a blacklist site, such as http://getcoldturkey.com/ getcoldturkey.com to quit your bad habits immediately. Don’t worry, it only temporarily blocks the sites you submit, but it must be done! If you don’t need the internet for your work, turn off the wifi on both your computer and phone to eradicate all notification rings and dings. Set an alarm as a goal to complete a project. Once done, treat yourself to a few minutes of silence, relaxing your mind and body to recharge for the next productivity goal.
And there you have it. You’ve just turned all those sassy #internproblems into #internsolutions.