5 Internship Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

Posted by | October 1, 2013 | Tips for Interns

Everyone makes mistakes, it’s only human. But it’s how we handle those mistakes that reveals our character. Are you avoiding them or do you take responsibility? Either way, there are some internship mistakes you simply can avoid.

Read on to find out how to avoid them.

1. You aren’t satisfied with your internship.

It’s crucial that you benefit from your internship. An internship is a mutually beneficial business partnership – you learn new skills and gain experience while the company you’re working for lowers their costs by taking you on. Just because you were offered the internship doesn’t mean you have to stay in it till the end if you don’t think it’s a good fit for you.

So if you don’t like your position or you’re bored with it, talk to your mentor/manager and straighten it out. Don’t prolong your misery and the company’s loss (of time, resources, money) if you don’t think it’s going to work.

2. You wear ridiculous clothes.

Unless you’re interning for a big corporation, it’s hard to know how to dress appropriately for your workplace. Business casual can be interpreted in so many ways, depending on the job you’re doing and while the internet guides are helpful, they aren’t the end all, be all. Calling the workplace and asking what the dress code is a good idea but it still can be daunting. So to avoid embarrassing mistakes, observe how your bosses and co-workers dress. It’s a sure fire method of dressing appropriately for work.

Remember, when in doubt, it’s better to over-dress than under-dress!

3. You don’t listen.

This is an important rule that you should remember in all the aspects of your life, not only during your internship: listen carefully to what’s being said. There’s nothing more off-putting than someone who thinks they know what they’re talking about when in reality they have absolutely no idea. Don’t try and revolutionise your workplace without asking why it is run the way it is.

Ask why things are done this specific way instead of some other way. I’ve said this before and I’ll say this many more times: don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you have an idea on how to improve something, make sure you check out if that idea hasn’t been put forward and shot down before.

4. You let the lack of feedback slide.

One of the biggest mistakes during internships is not getting enough feedback from your superiors. Sometimes people forget to give you feedback on how you’re doing, it happens. Don’t be afraid to go out and seek their opinions and guidance yourself. Make an appointment with your manager once a month, or however frequently you prefer, and discuss how you’re doing during your internship, how your goals are coming along, what you’re learning, what they need from you.

Communication is key.

5. You don’t give your best.

This is the worst mistake you can make. While your internship might be unpaid (as is the case with most internships these days), that doesn’t mean you can just slack off or procrastinate. This internship is a chance for you to gain valuable experience, learn new skills and hopefully make connections which will stay with you for the rest of your life.

If you’re finding your projects difficult, ask for help. If you find them boring, find an aspect of it that you enjoy. Remind yourself ‘why’ you’re doing this in the first place. All jobs have boring parts; it’s what makes the enjoyable parts, well, enjoyable. Always give it your 100% because you never know what might catch the eye of your bosses and impress them enough to give you a permanent position.

What do you think? Can you think of any other mistakes you can’t afford to make? Share them with me in comments!


— Author: Lena Zwolak

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