How to be the best intern ever

By on August 14, 2013

This is one in a series of posts offering quick internship advice by students wrapping up their summer programs. Read the whole series here.
Now that you’ve gotten past your first-week internship jitters, you can finally start getting down to business and tapping into the summer’s potential. Whether that lies in a post-internship talent development program with your company, an entry-level job offer or simply a glowing recommendation, you can’t afford to waste this summer. Here are a few tips for being the best intern ever.

1. Be organized

This should go without saying. Keep a meticulous calendar including both your personal and work schedules and check it every day. Take notes on everything your supervisor says about your tasks. Whether it’s a recurring assignment deadline or an account password, no one should ever have to tell you something twice.

2. Be confident

When dealing with your supervisor or coworkers, be careful not to nod or smile at inappropriate times, as that makes you look weak and unconfident. You were offered this position for a reason, so take comfort in that. Speak clearly, walk quickly and make eye contact.

3. Fraternize appropriately

Follow your coworkers on Twitter, and if they invite you out to the office happy hour after work, go for it. Do not get sloppy or start sharing your darkest secrets, though, or by the end of the summer the only thing you’ll have is a reputation for being a mess.

4. Stay off Facebook

I recently asked a USA TODAY editor what his number-one qualm was in hiring college students and recent graduates, and he answered me in a single word: Facebook. You are here to learn and to work. Unless your job is social media-related, leave Facebook updates and live tweets at home.

5. Do more

Remember that the requirements agreed upon by you and your advisor should be the minimum of what you do this summer. Ask yourself at the end of each week, “What more could I be doing?” Then develop a strategy over the weekend and tackle it Monday morning. If you keep this in mind, you will always go above what is expected.

Alex Laughlin is influence director for the University of Georgia’s ONA Student group and this summer she is a social media intern at USA TODAY. She is a senior women’s studies major at UGA. When not studying feminism, she practices yoga, runs half marathons and makes friends with fellow bloggers. Get in touch at @alexlaughs or laughlin.alex@gmail.com.

Alex Laughlin

Alex Laughlin, a 2016 MJ Bear Fellow, is a News Audio Fellow at BuzzFeed. She's also the co-founder of Pay Up, a private, Slack-based community dedicated to fostering conversations about the gender wage gap. It was formerly managed by the Washington Post.