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Ah, the intern.  Fresh faced, eager to learn and ready to put college behind them so that they can finally put their educations to good use.  Before you begin your intern, however, there are some things that first of all, you’ve already been told and secondly, it’s worth mentioning again.  Too many times, college interns, while energetic and ready to change the world, will forget the rules and can sometimes end up being the worst decision a company has made.  So put your defenses down – A. Harrison Barnes, career coach and founder, has some good ideas that will keep you in your employer’s good graces.

  • Are you required to show up each day with a mat?  No?  Then nap time doesn’t exist in the office.  Not only that, but your employer really doesn’t care how late you were out the night before or how many phone numbers your late night netted you.  It’s unprofessional and immature.  Period.  Don’t do it.
  • Your way cool boyfriend may dig the new ink that has the symbolic meaning only the two of you know, but keep it covered in the workplace as much as you can.  And yes, more folks than ever are sporting tattoos these days, and perhaps even the one you answer to on a daily basis, but that doesn’t give you free rein to walk around the office tugging at the shoulder of your blouse in an effort to show your sense of adventure.  Oh, and if you don’t have a tattoo and are considering it, the founder suggests you choose something that’s subtle and that is placed on an area that’s easily covered.  A vivid and colorful tattoo up your leg might be your cup of tea, but remember, there will come a day when it just might get in the way.
  • Have a problem with the employer?  That’s fine.  Don’t resort to the neighborhood antics from when you were twelve and tattle to mean Billy’s mom.  Show maturity and graciousness by going through the proper channels, says A. Harrison Barnes.  Even if those proper channels disagree, you will have handled with it class and dignity and those nuances count in the long run.
  • If you tend to speak or type in computer lingo – whether you’re prone to blurting out “OMG!” or if you forget “what” doesn’t have the letter “u”, but does have the letters “h” and “a” and that it’s spelled “what” instead of “wut”, then find someone you trust to help you work on that.  Revealing these tendencies shows nothing but immaturity – and possibly a poor grasp of the English language.
  • Dress appropriately.  This bears repeating, as Barnes says it’s one of the biggest complaints companies have about their interns: DRESS APPROPRIATELY!  Whatever the standard dress code is, you should follow to the letter.  Casual Fridays in the office might not be your definition of what casual wear is.  If nothing else, forego your casual dress efforts the first Friday in the office so that you can see what’s acceptable.

Internships are incredible opportunities and are advantageous both for you and the company that’s chosen you.  Pay it the respect it deserves.  You never know when you might want to build your career there or it could be that you might need a reference at some point.  Burning bridges is never a good thing.

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