Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How To Be A Super Impressive Intern

My summers have been booked with internships ever since starting college. Last summer I had an unpaid and extremely stressful internship with a local newspaper, and this summer I interned with a "big name" magazine in NYC.

I'm not going to lie, internships are extremely important, especially for journalism. Employers want to hire people with experience, and pretty much the only way to get journalism experience is through internships. At least that what's I've been told by professors, internship coordinators, and university alumni.

My time at the local newspaper and the magazine are almost incomparable, but I realized that "proper intern behavior" is the same at both. I've seen outstanding interns who've been asked back to the company, and I've also seen lousy interns who didn't put any effort into their work. I wanted to share a few tips I've picked up over the last two years about how to be an impressive intern.

1. Know your place
If your internship coordinator gives you an assignment, then do the assignment. This may seem obvious, but my internship coordinator told me about an intern who responded to a task with, "I want to eat lunch now. Maybe I can do that later." Seriously. Interns are basically supposed to do anything their coordinator asks, so don't come off as high maintenance by rejecting a task.

2. Dress the part
Your hair and clothes are obviously not the most important aspects of your internship, but how you look really does matter. Appearance is the first thing your coworkers notice about you, and often the thing they remember. While you should always be conservative and appropriate, keep in mind that a fashion intern might wear something completely different than a financial intern. Research the dress code ahead of time and take cues from your coworker. You don't want to be the girl wearing the highest heels or the shortest skirt.

3. Ask for what you want
I'm a timid person, but I've learned the importance of asking for what you want. Do you want to grab coffee with your coordinator? Ask. Do you want to sit in on a meeting? Ask. Do you want to try your hand at writing an article? Ask. People won't know what you want unless you ask. Make the most of your internship and try out anything and everything you possibly can. The worst that can happen is that your coordinator will say no.

4. Be willing to do anything
At my internship, I'm known as the "intern who is willing to do anything," since I accept each task and try my best at it, even if the work is tedious. My coordinators noticed my drive, and I've been rewarded for my efforts. I was asked to write an article for the magazine's website, and I even got to attend a press event. Smile through the hardships!

5. Make connections and network, network, network
Connections are everything. Absolutely everything. Magazine job positions can get hundreds of applications in one week, and no employer will have time to sort through every applicant. People with connections are way more likely to get a job, since employers will pay closer attention to those recommended by other people in the office. Meet people through your internship who have a job that you covet and ask them to get coffee. On your date, ask them anything you wanted to know about their job and how they got it, and be sure to thank them afterwards. Keep in touch with your coordinator after your internships by sending an email every couple of months, but make sure not to bombard them with emails as well.

Good luck!