Intern Life: 6 Hacks To Be Taken Seriously

By Billy J. Clanton| August 18, 2015

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Being an intern isn’t easy (after 12 and half internships I should know!). You finally got the internship of your dreams, so everything should be rosy, right?

Maybe not! You’re at the bottom of the professional pecking order and, after all your hard work getting your internship, it can sometimes feel like you’re invisible. Seriously?! You did not sign up for this.

It can be hard for interns to stand out, especially if you are interning at a big company, but there are a few hacks I’ve picked up along the way to make sure you will be taken seriously as an intern.


1. Watch Your Words

be taken seriously as an intern: Interns around a computerIf you want respect at work, you’ve got to talk the talk. This means avoiding making verbal faux pas and over using words that can make you sound less professional.

What kind of words am I talking about? The usual culprits! For example, are you a serial offender when it comes to using the word ‘like’ or ‘am’ (am, am, am, am)? Are you guilty of saying ‘you know’ or ‘awesome’ a little too often? These are exactly the type of words I am talking about.

So what’s the problem? These are ‘filler’ words and they are completely useless words that add nothing to the conversation.

Using words like these will make your co-workers think you are less intelligent.

These words can also dilute the message you are trying to communicate. So next time you are having a conversation try to be more conscious of the words you use. If you find yourself using any of these, work on breaking this habit and banning them from your workday vocabulary.


2. Dress Like A Pro

This one goes without saying. Whether you like it or not, people judge you based on how you dress. This will happen at your internship too. This is why it’s important to make sure you look the part and fit the company culture. If you are interning for a prestigious law firm, chances are the dress code will be formal business attire. If your internship is with a start-up, the dress code will probably be a lot more casual.

This is where doing your research pays off. If you know the company dress code before you start, you’ll be sure to fit in and be taken more seriously from the get go.

See more about dressing like a pro in our how to dress well on a budget and how to dress for summer internships posts.


group of workers in a meeting3. Speak Up

Don’t be afraid to speak up when you think you have something to contribute. But you should also know when you need to keep your opinions to yourself.

Although you are new and may not have as much experience as other people in the company, that doesn’t mean you don’t have anything of value to offer. Don’t be afraid to contribute your ideas in meetings. Just make sure you can rationally back up your opinion before you open your mouth.


4. Don’t know the answer? Admit it! Then go find it…

You’re an intern. The whole point of being an intern is to learn. You are not expected to know everything. If you don’t know the answer something, own up and ask for help (see why it’s ok to ask for help at your internship). Believe me, you will be taken a lot more seriously than if you pretend to know what you’re doing and end up making a big mistake.


Interns around a computer: girl on her phone5. It’s Not The Time For Text Speak

Just like with your conversations, the text you use at your internship also impacts how seriously people take you. This is not the time or place for text speak.

Whether you are contacting a fellow intern, a coworker or a client, you should always use proper English when you are acting on behalf of your company. These messages reflect on both you and the company, so make sure you always keep it professional.


6. Just Do It

Is there a job that needs to be done that you haven’t been asked to do? Do it! Don’t be afraid to push yourself to step outside your comfort zone. Being proactive and taking on responsibilities that go beyond your job description is a sure fire way to make you stand out and get noticed.


There you have it, 6 hacks that will make your co-workers take you more seriously during your internship. If you’re looking to turn your internship into a job, it’s time to start putting these tips into action.

Read more on how to be the best intern ever and silly intern mistakes you should avoid.

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