As we work our way into the month of June, many of us prospective career makers are just starting or slowly getting settled into summer internships. It’s usually an awkward process, where many of us feel overwhelmed by the sheer complexity of the working world and unsure about how to behave and take part in the bustle around us. Relax. The people you work with are just older versions of you, who know exactly how it is to start work with little to no experience in a professional environment. All you need to do is listen and learn, and things will come on their own. In the mean time, here are a few ground rules to keep you out of trouble and get you involved with your coworkers.
1. Clean up your Facebook page. IMMEDIATELY. Your drunk photos and weed pics from last night’s revelry aren’t going to score any points with your coworkers. You’re lucky you have an internship in the first place with that garbage still on your page. Make sure your privacy settings are adjusted to limit your exposure, and follow this Mashable guide for some helpful tips.
2. When you see people taking coffee breaks together or congregating at a certain time of day, join them. Walk over and introduce yourself if you don’t know everyone, and stick around for the conversation. You’ll learn a wealth of useful info about the office.
3. Never take lunch alone. There’s no better way to get to know the office and improve your status in the team than by consistently taking lunch with your co-workers and taking part in conversations about current projects. Try to mix it up and ask people you haven’t been with for a restaurant recommendation as an opportunity to join them and learn more about people you don’t yet know.
4. Ask when you don’t know. If you’re unsure about something, go to a coworker who doesn’t look particularly stressed and see if they can help you with your problem. Try to find someone who knows the ropes and can help you on a routine basis with your questions. Invite criticism and be sure to thank them for their help. Don’t get defensive when you’re corrected, you’re there to learn.
5. Always make sure you have something to do. If you run out of assigned tasks, ask those around you if you can help. If there’s absolutely nothing for you to do, don’t let yourself be tempted to spend hours on YouTube or Hulu catching up on the latest episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Read up about the company, read blogs or news releases relevant to your field, and check with those around you if you can help again. Check out Technorati’s Top 100 list for a good place to start.
Now once again, relax. Interns are there to learn and everyone who has a clue knows that. Bring what you can to the table and stay engaged, and you’ll be golden.