Monday, June 06, 2011

Don't screw up

That's the advice that Sara Stashower would always give our interns on their first day. I thought I would expound on that advice for our 2011 summer interns who start today and anyone else at the beginning of their internship.

Every company and internship is going to be different, but these tips I've picked up have always served me well.

  1. Carry a notepad and a pen everywhere - Even if you have a photographic memory, bring something to write with and write on. Your notes will prove useful given the amount of projects that fly through our agency on a regular basis. Plus note-taking equipment says, "I'm paying attention."
  2. Put down the phone - You millennials may have been born with free nights and weekends contracts but you're not here to txt LOLs to your bffs. Cell phones are great distractions but distracted isn't on the list of qualities we look for in fantastic interns. Also, don't hide behind your desk phone or instant messaging service. Besides the work you're assigned, your job at any internship is to make connections and get noticed. Get out of your cube and have a face-to-face conversation.
  3. Ask questions - No one expects you to be an expert. Our business is filled with acronyms and jargon. Also it's better to ask a boatload of questions at the start of a project than one that sinks your ship at the end. 
  4. Meet deadlines - This is the real world. There are no make-up quizzes or extra credit. Miss a deadline in this business and it costs money and clients. That's no good.
  5. No prairie dogging - This typically starts around 4:30 in the afternoon. We start seeing intern heads popping up over their cubicles to see if the coast is clear so they can slip out a few minutes early. We're pretty flexible but this is your time to shine. Watching the clock makes people think that you have someplace better to be. Be at work physically and mentally.
  6. No whining - Understand that no one likes every single part of their job. There are going to be tasks and assignments that you won't like doing. Don't cop an attitude as though something is beneath you. Being helpful will get you noticed. Whiners never win - unless you're LeBron.
  7. Don't wait for work to come to you - If you've got spare time, ask around and see if anyone else needs help. You might get included on the project of your dreams.
Easy enough, right? Good luck not screwing up.

Mark Szczepanik
Associate Creative Director
Internship Co-chair

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