Dont Be a Slacker

By Deb Perelman  |  Posted 2008-04-17 Print this article Print

DO: Earn Your Way to Better Tasks

The stereotypical summer intern gets assigned menial tasks--copying large stacks of documents, arranging meetings--and spends most of their time underused and overly bored. Sadly enough, the stereotype often matches the internship experience spot-on.

"Let's face it: they're not going to give you the glamorous stuff. First they want you to prove that you can listen and take direction," said Estes.

However, interns aren't given grunt work out of spite, or because nobody respects them--no matter how it may feel if you're on your fourth filing job that week--it's because other employees at the company don't know they can be relied upon for more yet. This distinction is essential.

"It's easy to say book this, set up that conference... but to get onto an interesting coding project takes trust. If you do a sub-par job on something assigned to you, you create extra work," said Ebner.

DON'T: Slack Off in Idle Time

One of the very basic tenets of holding down a full-time job is knowing how to manage your time--which includes both using downtime to get a lead on an incoming task and not complaining if you have a little more than you need one day.

"During lulls or slow periods, you should be offering your assistance to other employees. The worst thing you can do is to finish your assigned task and surf the Internet until your next project starts," said Estes.

"Be real careful about the Internet especially. You think people walk by your cube and don't look at your monitor, it's like walking by a mirror--impossible not to look. People will remember that you were on Facebook," said Ebner.


DO: Use Every Opportunity to Learn More Skills

Even if you were the company favorite intern ever and did a stellar job at every task you were assigned, an internship is in no way a guaranteed full-time job offer after college. Because of this, the smartest thing an intern can do for themselves is to gain skills that they can use whether or not they land a job at the place where they interned.

"You want to structure them in IT to give yourself as many hard skills as possible. Many times in an internship, you're just an observer. You want to volunteer and work within your internship structure to get your hands dirty as much as possible," said Ebner.

In short: the more directly applicable skills you have, the better job candidate you'll be.

DON'T: Be Full of Yourself

While your new co-workers may be interested in your accomplishments at school, they'd much prefer that you wait to talk about them until you've been asked.

"Be humble. You may be doing great in school, you may be the class president, you may have been heavily recruited by several companies but people will open up to you a lot more if you're humble. If you brag, people will build barriers to you do deal with your ego," said Ebner.

This extends to the work that is given to you as well. When you're asked to photocopy a stack of documents for the third time that week, rolling your eyes is not going to make people want to ask you to do more important things. Nobody needs you to tell them that their work isn't interesting enough.

"This is your chance to make the best-looking binders they've ever seen. You have to bring pride to your work, or the chances of you getting more involved tasks are much less," said Ebner.


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