Preparing for your first real work experience can be a daunting task. It can feel like there is even more pressure when you are in a student internship. Be sure not to make these common mistakes often made by interns.
- The Entitlement Syndrome - You've just got the internship, but it does not mean you'll get a job out of this. Sometimes an internship is a long interview, but other times it's just a start or an opened door. Recognize your unique internship experience and your role within the company.
- Misinterpreting Casual - This means no flip flops. There should be no reason to ignore the difference between business casual and casual. In the event, you're not sure--overdress at least until you see what others are appropriately wearing.
- Unplug and Connect - While this is easier said than done, personal cell phones or iPods are not for the work place. Especially as you are working your way up to gain more experience. This is the time for you to learn, not for you to socialize or make plans post-internship. Instead, make sure you connect with the opportunity in front of you.
- Being a Wallflower - Don't be shy! Being intelligent and knowing how to complete projects in a timely manner is half the experience. Make sure you are making good eye contact and engaging in conversation while strengthening your interpersonal skills. A good way to ignite conversation is by asking for advice and discussing your progress.
- Avoiding Events - Ducking out of informal events or outings or even community days, hurts your chances of learning more at your internship. This is a chance for you to be more social with your peers "outside of the office". It's a good message to send that you understand and can balance the "life-work" scale. Always take advantage to get to know your co-workers on a more personal level when invited.
- Calling it "Grunt Work" - Just because it's not the most glamorous position in the company, doesn't mean it’s not important. Take pride in what you're working on because you are a part of the company and don't call it "grunt work".
- Seeing it as ONLY an Internship - This internship is much more than just experience. It's a chance for you to build your network. Spend as much time with as many people as you can, you'll learn about them, their paths to get where they and the companies they've worked for and with. Seek out all departments (operations, sales, finances, marketing, administration, human resources, etc.) to find out about their line of duty. You might even find it interesting and want to gain more experience there in the future. Start the relationship now, but continue it past your internship and maintain communication.
- Unreceptive to Criticism - Criticism is your friend. How will you ever learn if you don't allow yourself to fail? Ask for criticism. Many people do this, but supervisors tend to only reveal positive feedback. If it's positive, ask for a negative. You'll never be a perfect intern and you can always improve so ask how or what you can do to leave each situation better and more prepared for the next.