It always takes a little time to get used to a new workplace. Don't think you're going to do it all right from day one - all those new faces, new names, new rules and tasks, who can blame you? I have to admit, I'm a little bit of a wreck whenever I start a job or an internship. As the perfectionist that I am, I always want to make a good impression and do it all right from the get go, leaving me more frustrated than actually succeeding and reaching my goals. After a while, you'll get the hang of things, find your place in the organization and feel more relaxed with what you're doing. Next to that, never forget: you're there to learn. If they wanted someone who did everything independently and correct from the get-go, they should've hired an actual employee! Over the past few weeks, I have learned a thing or two you can do from the start in order to make a good impression as an intern, little things such as:
Start working before you're working. And by no means am I saying that you have to sit behind your desk at six a.m. Before you start your internship, get and keep in contact with your supervisor, and ask if there's anything you can do in advance. Whether it is reading certain literature or creating a project plan, always come prepared.
Always be on time, or perhaps even a bit early. Show your colleagues you're eager to work at their organization, even if you're not really feeling it at nine in the morning. Being on time shows you're reliable, professional, and in case you start your days with team meetings of some kind, it tells you respect other people and the importance of their time as well.
Put down the Social Media. Put your phone away during office hours. Having your iPhone glued to your hand during work doesn't give the impression of an enthusiastic, committed intern - quite the opposite. Leave the social media for your breaks and personal time.
Notes notes notes. Always make notes when you're discussing (new) tasks with your supervisor or colleagues. Show them that you're willing and eager to learn! Also - this way you actually won't forget to do, which is always a good thing.
Ask good questions. Someone once said 'there are no stupid questions'. Well, to be honest, there are. Don't go running to your supervisor for every little, simple thing. Be explorative and try to figure out how the printer works on your own or how to find that document on your new computer. Do, however, ask questions that show your interest, your dedication to whatever may be the subject of your internship, and that you're trying to think on the same level your colleagues are. Of course, when you're completely stuck, always ask for help - remember, you're there to learn!
Be respectful, but take initiative as well. As an intern, you will get assignments that don't seem very exciting. Believe me, I've made countless and countless copies of documents that weren't even for me to read. When you get one of those rather unrewarding tasks, be respectful and take it with grace. Everyone has do to some things he or she rather wouldn't, and in the end, you're the intern - and interns sometimes copy a lot. But! Don't let people walk all over you. If you feel like someone is taking advantage of your position as an intern, say something about it. Also, after you have gracefully accepted you're copying-job, also show initiative! Don't limit yourself to the task description, see if you can step it up a notch and go even further (though always in the right direction). Show them what you are capable of!
Don't be afraid to say 'no'. This is probably the curse of being an intern: you want to make a good impression, take on every thing that comes across your desk and do it exceedingly well. Until you're completely stressed out because you have too much on your plate and you see no way out of it (Been there, done that, probably gonna happen again). I know it's not easy to do, but you cannot juggle seventeen different things at a time. If you're feeling overwhelmed, discuss it with your supervisor. Do present a solution to your problem, and show them you've thought about what needs to be done in order to solve it. Instead of dropping a big 'I can't finish this now, I don't know what to do', explain that you're very busy right now, but you'll have it finished by then and then! This way you can also show off your new-found skill of good time-management!
What are your internship or new job experiences? Any advice to share?