10 Expert Tips for Internships

Amy Culver |
Amy is our Lead Copywriter at Snagajob, where she loves to use her word nerd powers to help workers and employers connect. Her first hourly job was as a cashier at Chick-fil-a.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a guest post from Kelsey Cowan, a Marketing Intern here at Snagajob. When she's not at work she loves to go to the beach, indulge in desserts and visit museums.

An internship can be a really great opportunity to get a taste of the real world and help steer you in the right direction towards your career. It can be an awesome learning experience and give you practice in your field of study. As an intern at Snagajob, I've learned a lot of lessons that may come in handy for you. Check out some of the do's and don'ts that I've discovered along the way!


Do ask tons of questions

Going into your internship, you probably don't have a lot of experience and that's okay, that's what internships are for. It's important to ask tons of questions to get familiar with what you'll be doing and how your manager wants certain things done. You might make a few mistakes before you get the hang of things, so just remember to ask lots of question and even take some notes. Most managers are willing to help you figure things out during your internship, so it never hurts to ask!

Do be honest

Being honest is key to having a great internship. You should definitely be honest about your abilities. If you don't know how to do something, just tell your manager and take advantage of this chance to learn something new. Honest communication is a characteristic managers look for in interns and potential employees. Even when it comes to small things like taking time off, always remember to be honest and let your boss know your situation.

Do be friendly and try to talk to everyone

As an intern it's important that you're friendly and try to get to know your co-workers. After all, networking is one of the best parts of having an internship. You should get involved by attending meetings and participating in company activities. Some great ways to get to know people is sitting with different groups at lunch, talking to people at the water cooler or even doing company activities outside of your work day like volunteering. While it's great to get to know your fellow co-workers, remember to not let it interfere with your work. Take the time to network and make connections because you may find yourself using these contacts after your internship is over!

Do be on time

One of the main things managers will look out for is if their interns are on time. Not only does this mean being on time getting to work, but also being on time with your projects and tasks. During your internship, you'll have to learn how to multitask and manage your time wisely. I found it helpful to keep track of deadlines in a calendar or notepad, that way you can give yourself time to get everything done. If you find that you need more time to work on something, make sure to give your manager a heads up. You might even want to ask for his or her help and advice. As long as you stick to deadlines and get your tasks completed, finishing up projects should be easy!

Do take advantage of all the internship has to offer

Internships are really great learning experiences and give you a chance to be a part of a company's culture and gain real-world experience. They're a great way to figure out what you like and dislike and may even steer you towards a career path. Absorb as much as you can and take what you learn to put into practice in the future. Not all internships are right for you and that's nothing to be disgruntled about. Instead, take it as a learning experience and try to figure out why that internship wasn't a good fit. Whatever the case, you will definitely learn from your experience. Keep in mind to fully involve yourself in your internship so that you learn everything you can before beginning your career.


Don't be a know-it-all

As an intern, people already assume you're there to learn from their company. It's important you don't walk in and act like you know everything. Instead, take the time to learn from your co-workers and keep an open mind. The best way to make an impact is to listen to others and figure out what you can do to improve the company.

Don't talk about anyone negatively

Sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in office gossip. However, it's vital that you don't get involved or talk badly about anyone. Your best bet is to avoid gossip altogether, especially as an intern. You never know who will be listening and these types of conversations can be hurtful. If you're having an issue with someone, it's best to talk to that person, talk to your manager or if you can do neither, talk to HR about what to do. Talking badly about someone doesn't only give another person a bad reputation, but can also give you a bad reputation as well. Changing the subject, telling people to stop or leaving a room are just a few examples of how you can avoid office gossip. By not getting involved, you're setting yourself apart in a positive way as an intern.

Don't have a bad attitude

When you're at your internship, it's important to always be professional and keep your personal life separate from your work life. You shouldn't take out your frustrations on your work or worse, your co-workers. Some effective ways to keep your personal life out of your work is to limit yourself from personal phone calls, text messages, and emails. Not only do these things distract you from your work, but your manager can see it as being unprofessional. If you do need to answer a phone call, the best thing to do is step away from your desk and go to a private area where it won't distract anyone else. Always bring your best attitude to work and remember to always be professional.

Don't expect to be hired

One thing you need to remember is that your internship is only a temporary learning experience. Although it would be great, it's important that you remember not all internships guarantee jobs. Your main goal is to do your best and learn as much as possible, because internships can open the doors to other outside career opportunities. Many internships can turn into a position, however, expecting one is never a good idea. If you do get offered a position, try to step back and see if it's the best fit for you.

Don't be afraid to take initiative

While it's important to follow directions and learn from your managers and fellow employees, don't forget that you got hired because of your own talents. When you voice your own opinions or ideas, it can show that you're really interested in the work you're doing and can also help you stand out as an intern. If you have an idea for something new at your workplace, don't be afraid to share it with your managers. Making a positive impact is always a good idea when you're interning.