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9 Silly Intern Mistakes
June 2, 2015
Intern at the Federal Communications Commission

Summer Internship Season is here and it is important to start (and finish) your internship on the right foot.

You wouldn’t believe some of the silly mistakes interns make every semester here in DC (and all over the US) that can complete blow their internship and the chance to get a full-time job.

Are you wondering what these silly mistakes are? I’ve spent an endless amount of hours tirelessly researching in the quietest corner of The WISHington Post HQ. So if you want to stand out and make a great impression at your internship, avoid these 9 silly intern mistakes.

1. Thinking You Are Too Good For Boring Jobs

You might not see the value or point in doing boring/repetitive tasks like filing, photocopying, arranging meetings, and organizing lunch, but there is. If you prove yourself by doing these tasks well and excelling at them, you’ll be given more interesting assignments and more responsibility.

Everybody has to prove their worth and pay their dues. Remember that your boss was probably in a similar position to you at some stage of their lives. You can’t walk into a company as an intern and expect to start at the top, so pay attention to detail, follow instructions and do good quality work. If you do your boss will become confident in you and will probably trust you to do more interesting work before you know it.

2. Dressing Inappropriately

The last thing you want to do at your internship is stand out for the wrong reason. Although you will be working as an intern, it’s important that you dress to fit in with the company rather than for your role as intern.

If you show up to your job dressed too casually, you will give the impression that you don’t take your job seriously. If you dress too formally, you’ll stand out and not in a good way! Before you start your internship do some research to see how other people dress in your office. If you can’t find out this information, don’t be afraid to send an email and ask.

Find out how to dress well on a budget and how to dress for your summer internship.

3. Ignoring The Office Culture

One of the most important factors for any company is that their employees (and interns) fit in with the office culture. Observing what other people do in the office is the best way to see how things are done at the company. For example, if you are supposed to start at 9am, but find that everyone is in the office and hard at work when you arrive, this is a sign that you may be expected to arrive earlier. If no one uses their phone on company time, or talks very low when they are on the phone, you should do the same.

4. Using Your Cell Phone

Want to be taken seriously at your internship? Drop your phone and concentrate getting on your tasks done. Avoid making personal calls, texting, social media (especially updating your status or profiles), and surfing the web when you are at work. The best thing you can do is put your phone in a drawer until lunchtime so you are not tempted to use it.

5. Taking Criticism Personally

Being able to take criticism and use it to improve and develop is a great skill. Internships are all about learning, so you should expect to receive some constructive criticism along the way. Some people will deliver this criticism in a tactful way and some won’t. It is important that you do not take this personally. Learn from your mistakes, make sure you do not make them again and prove your critics wrong.

6. Sending Sloppy Emails

When you are interning your email will more than likely be associated with the company in some way. This is an extension of the company and should be written in line with the company culture and image. You should NEVER send a work email that is written like you are texting a friend! It is also extremely important that you proofread your emails (more than once) before you hit send. Sending poorly written emails will reflect badly on the company and will give your boss the impression that you have little interest in your job and the company.

7. Not Taking The Time To Build Relationships

You will never have a better opportunity to access and meet people you can learn from and establish key relationships with.

When you are interning it is important that you have a mentor who shares important knowledge and offers advice. This will allow you to learn and grow your skill set.

Networking and building relationships is also important. Networking is crucial in the business world, and it is even more important when you are an intern. This is why you should try to network and with as many people at the company as possible, so you can try to develop good relationships.

Why not be productive on your lunch break and arrange to have coffee with some interesting people you want to meet at your company? You will never know when these connections will work for you.

If you are not the best networker (like me!), check out Billy J. Canton’s interview with tips on how to network with anyone.

8. Not Asking For Feedback

If you do not ask for feedback how do you expect to learn from your mistakes and improve? Getting feedback will help you get better at what you do. If your boss or supervisor is not giving you feedback, do not be afraid to ask. Feedback will make you better at what you do. It will also show you care and want to do a good job.

9. Not Keeping In Touch

This is probably the biggest mistake interns make. When you finish your internship, make sure you keep in touch with your boss and your co-workers, especially if you got on well with them. Send thank you notes (taking time to send an actual note can be a nice touch) or emails once you finish. Drop occasional emails every now and again to maintain the relationships you worked hard to build.

You never know when an opportunity might become available. If you keep in touch with people, they could put you forward for a role that might pop up in the future.

Avoid making these silly mistakes and you’ll be sure to impress during your internship. If you more internship tips see how to be the best intern ever and how to turn your internship into a job.