Yes, I am piggybacking off of Jonathan’s last post. He wrote about interns, and I am putting in my two cents in.
It hasn’t been all that long (but definitely long enough) since I graduated from college, so my intern wounds are far from healed. I spent two semesters as an intern with a major publishing house, and the last semester of my senior year as an intern for a trade magazine. Here are my top five tips for being an intern, whether you are an aspiring intern, or an intern supervisor desperate to understand the angsty, over-worked college student sulking in the corner cubicle.
1. Meet with your supervisor on a regular basis
Just because you see your supervisor every day doesn’t mean you both are on the same page. Remember, you are not an employee of the company, you are an intern with the company. Your responsibility is to work and to learn and not get your employer in any legal trouble, and your supervisor’s responsibility is to make sure you are learning all you can. Good communication can only make your internship better.
2. Address a new responsibility as soon as you receive the assignment
This tip goes hand in hand with good communication. When you receive new assignments and take on responsibilities, immediately open up communication with your supervisor. Maybe you are ecstatic about having the first read of a newly submitted manuscript. Maybe you are not cool with rummaging through stacks of papers on the senior editor’s desk to find a disk that she misplaced. Let your supervisor know how you’re responding to your new duties.
3. Make friends with your superiors
Chances are your internship is in a field that you want to work in. Engage your superiors; they will teach you something. At the trade magazine, I would make cappuccinos for a guy in advertising, and he would return the favor. He went to school in Western New York, where I grew up, and we never ran out of things to talk about, whether it was bars in downtown Buffalo or the progress of my undergraduate thesis.
4. Ask for more
As an intern, you are usually responsible for keeping yourself busy. Ask for more work (as long as you don’t have a school assignment hanging over your head). Look alive, and remember, that graduate school recommendation isn’t going to write itself.
5. Take as much as you can (but don’t steal anything)
Long before I owned a coffee table, I had plenty of art and design books to put on it. Though they may not be paying you, more often than not the company you intern with is more than happy to bequeath upon you the products of your labor. Make sure you have a copy of a book you worked on, even if you only copied and distributed the manuscript.
Of course, you should be taking away more lessons than things. By the end of your internship, you should know whether or not this industry is right for you, built a substantial relationship with your supervisor and have at least one professional reference.