'Intern Queen' offers 10 survival tips
Apr 7th 2010 1:00PM
Updated Apr 12th 2010 2:51PM
Berger knows landing the internship (even for no intern pay) is just the beginning. "A lot of people think they get an internship and their work is done; their work has just started," Berger says. "They really need to take the time and be the best intern they can be. And really work on making a lasting impression with these companies."
Here are 10 Tips from the Intern Queen on making the right impression at an internship:
1.Use the employer's resources. "Your employers, most likely, have tons of useful information around for you to take advantage of during your internship: trade/industry publications, portfolios, reference books/guides, subscriptions to expensive websites, etc. During your down time, ask your employer if you can use these resources. Have an entertainment industry internship? You'd better be reading Variety and Hollywood Reporter every chance you get. Materials like that can run an individual a few hundred dollars per year. Stay up to date on news, company information, and client information."
2. Stay in touch with everyone. "You never know when a contact will come in handy. I stay in touch with the people from my very first internship, the people at my last internship, and everyone in between. They've all helped me out in one way or another throughout the years. Keep a grid or Excel document of the people you meet. Start organizing your contacts at an early age. This will really pay off in the long run and save you tons of time."
3. Stop surfing the web. "Checking personal email and shopping online when you're at work is a quick way to say that you don't take your job seriously. And don't go on Facebook unless you are actually doing research for work or are maintaining your company's Facebook fan page (which a lot of interns get to do). If your internship coordinator sees you on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, it's a quick way of saying, 'I have better things to do.'"
4. Keep it quiet. "Just because you find out confidential information doesn't mean that you can treat it like high school gossip. Your bosses are honoring you with their trust, so keep things on the DL. Many employers make interns sign NDAs (non-disclosure agreements). Read before you sign. Make sure you fully understand what you are agreeing to. Know what you can say and what you cannot say. What happens in the office should stay in the office. If you find anything to be inappropriate or uncomfortable, tell your HR manager or school counselor immediately."
5. Always ask for more. "Do you have lots of downtime at your internship? Ask your employer for more work, which will give you more opportunities. Take initiative. Don't wait for the work to come your way. If you can't help your direct boss, are there others in the office you can help?"
6. Don't get it? Ask it. "If you don't understand something, ask. It will save you lots of time and energy in the long run. I made the mistake of not asking how to make coffee at the Daily Buzz in Orlando, Fla. I went into the break room and pressed the wrong button on the coffee-maker. Water starting to leak from the machine and flood the break room. I had to run and get a news anchor to help with the spill. It was embarrassing, and needless to say, I learned how to make coffee after that."
7. Keep your cell phone hidden. "Again, this is another quick way to say, 'I don't want to be here. I have better things to do.' Your internship coordinator should never see you with your cell phone ... they shouldn't even know that you have one. Go outside to make any calls. Keep your phone in the car if you can. Don't check it. Don't text. Don't Facebook. Don't anything. Keep your full attention on your internship."
8. Be great, stay great. "Interns tend to make a great first impression on the first day and then start to get lazy. Make an amazing impression on your first day until your last day ... no slacking in between! Yes, you should be early, look good, be confident on your first day – but every other day of the internship should be the exact same way. Your internship is only 8-10 weeks – no excuses for not showing up on time every single day."
9. Keep other interns close. "Become friends with your fellow interns because you never know where they will end up in the future. My closest friends are actually people I met from my internships throughout college. These are the ambitious students who will be your professional colleagues in the future. Some of my former intern friends are CEOs and high-level executives. These friendships can last a lifetime if managed properly."
10. Don't be "The Shy One." "Even though office environments can be intimidating, speak up in meetings when people ask you questions and speak clearly. Don't be known as 'The Shy One' or 'the one who doesn't speak.' If an employer can't trust you on the phone to sound confident and secure, then why would they want to put you on the phone with their clients? Speak clearly and avoid words such as 'like,' 'you know,' 'ummmm' and 'uuhhhhh.'"