Being an intern for more than 10 months in a private firm taught me more than I could have ever expected. My field of work or my profession, I realized, has nothing to do with the experience I had. To be an intern is probably the most exciting opportunity that any college graduate looks ahead to. My internship gave me life lessons that I will be carrying to my grave. Here are the 9 things that any professional intern should swear by:
Always. And I mean always say yes. Say yes to bringing your boss coffee, say yes to helping a co-worker with work and say yes to that jerk of a senior when he asks for an opinion. Being able to say yes during this learning period will only fetch you good. No matter how hard it might seem at that time, you will eventually realize that the things you learned by saying yes and being there will only help you grow.
Be on time
During my tenure, interns were not mandated to an attendance, but I made it a point to be on time. Even if you don’t realize it, the boss always knows what’s happening in his office. No matter how insignificant your work might be, to be there on time is half the impression won.
This is not the time for gossip
Office gossip is the most integral part of any conversation when you start working, but as an intern, never indulge in it. Listen, nod and walk away. People might expect a reaction or fodder to the topic but in reality they think it’s none of your business. You are the junior most man on the job, stick to work. After all, this is the time for it.
Small things will turn big
There are no small roles, only small actors. Remember this not only during your internship but all through your professional career. No matter how small a job might seem, do it with utmost dedication and trust your capabilities. Small things turn to big projects and eventually, success!
Don’t expect anything
This might sound almost inhumane, but hey, who promised you a bed of roses. Don’t expect any benefits, any holidays or any recognition for your work. This is a tradition that is as old as it gets. I don’t think the early man invented the wheel by accident; it was obviously an intern who worked his ass off for it. All you do as intern is learn for your own sake. Keep that in mind, and any applause that may come your way (yeah right!) will be a pleasant surprise.
And when I say contacts, I don’t necessarily mean with consultants or clients. Be nice to the office boy, the Fed-Ex guy or even the janitor. These are the people who will help you through crisis more than a colleague. A smile will go a long way in the time of need.
Write it down
Maximize your communication through the magic savior of writing. Written communications go a long way to save your ass during chaos. What’s that? A senior asked you to leave the boss’s personal work and assist him? Make an e-mail out of tricky formal words as to how doing his work delayed the boss’. Be nice but be informed.
Don’t make friends
Make cordial relationships with all the people around you. Make colleagues, not friends. Friendship will get you into unnecessary work, gossip and awkward positions. Be a professional. Friendship is an after-work thing. Keep it that way.
It’s a small world
In the end, it is a small world and the professional world is even smaller. Word goes around, so make sure you do not leave any ill impressions that may follow you around to haunt you. Even if you get fired (yes, interns do get fired!) take it graciously and tell your boss that it was pleasure to work under his guidance. Dignify your existence. After all, the world still needs interns.