Our August persona here at Innovative Office Solutions is the Intern. Most of us have spent some time in our younger days as an intern, whether it was during college, or if you were really motivated, during high school. Interns are wide-eyed newbies who are getting a taste of the “real world” in a professional setting. In most cases, interns are able to help out in a practical sense, while they soak up as much of the professional environment that they can in the hope that it benefits their pursuit of happiness after they’re done with school.
Did you know that Steven Spielberg was an intern at Universal Studios when he was 17? That when Tom Hanks was in college, he interned at the Great Lakes Theatre Festival? That Oprah Winfrey interned at WLAC-TV in Nashville? That Steve Jobs interned at Hewlett-Packard when he was, “12 or 13”? Or that news anchor Brian Williams interned for President Jimmy Carter? (Well, he says he did anyway, who knows at this point?)
Jokes aside, internships can be very valuable experiences for college, or even high school students. It gives them a glimpse of the professional world and lets them see what sorts of things they might be interested in pursuing upon graduation. And while the number one goal for any business hiring interns should be to give them a well-rounded glimpse at their industry, most of them expect a productive work share as well.
While there are a variety of different roles for interns to take on here at Innovative Office Solutions, it’s a good idea for any intern here, or in really any other business environment where they might be working, to bring along some things that might make life easier at an internship.
7 Things Every Intern Should Bring to Work
1. Workplace Attire
It’s always smart to overdress on your first day if you’re not sure what appropriate attire might be. You can certainly ask the hiring manager, but if you’ve forgotten to do that, it’s better to look sharp than to be underdressed. Also, you never know when you might be asked to go to a meeting or out for a bite after work, so it’s not a bad idea to bring along a tie or an extra pair of shoes so that you have the appropriate attire when needed.
2. A Notebook
No, not a laptop (unless you’re told to do so), but a good, old-fashioned notebook. You’ll more than likely be provided with a computer if the job necessitates it, but you’ll want to take thorough notes throughout your internship. You’ll build yourself a valuable resource to look back on whether or not you stay in that profession or not. Internships are learning experiences, and just like in school, the best way to learn well is to take plenty of notes.
3. Writing Utensils
They may or may not be provided to you, but just have some of your own to be safe. Bring more than one pen, they have a habit of disappearing. Don’t ask us why, they just do. Speaking of notebooks, pens, etc., Innovative has a huge supply of office essentials, which can be browsed here.
4. A Reliable Bag
Not your stinky gym bag, but a good bag that hold all of the things you’ll need to bring and all of the things you’ll be given at work.
5. A Reusable Water Bottle
You’ll want to put your best foot forward throughout your internship, and the best way to do that is to keep your energy level up. Staying hydrated is the most important thing to consider when you’re in an office setting for a full work day. Don’t be afraid to drink more water than you normally would– it will help you stay focused and full of energy.
6. A Willingness to Learn
Interns are brought on so that they can gain experience and hopefully pick up some new skills. Don’t be afraid to jump into new projects or to volunteer for some tasks that might be outside of your comfort zone. It’s always better to be proactive as an intern, and learning new things will only boost your stock once you’re out in the job market.
7. A Good Attitude
Ok, look, everybody knows that you’re there to pad your resume. Sure, there are a few internships that can lead to employment afterwards, but the truth is, most internships are either heading back to school or out into the job market. The most important thing to keep up during any internship is your attitude. You won’t know everything, you’ll make mistakes and you might even look dumb a time or two. Stay positive! A good attitude will leave a positive impression on those that you worked with and they’ll be far more willing to recommend you to a future employer.
For every company that brings on interns, you have to treat them with respect and have things for them to do. The days of interns simply being gophers and part-time janitors is long gone.
5 Things You Should Do For Your Intern
1. Keep Them Busy
It’s a competitive job market out there. More and more millennials are entering the work force and eager to hit the ground running. Have a plan in place for what tasks you want your intern to do and don’t be afraid to let them try to pitch in. The more work you’re willing to offer them, the more productive they’ll probably be.
2. Make it Worth Their While
Nobody is saying you have to be Google and provide gym memberships and exotic food choices, but being an intern should be a positive experience. Spend some time with them answering questions, not only about what they’re supposed to be doing, but give them some tips on how the “real world” works. It feels good to help out the next wave of professionals and it can also help invigorate you at your work.
3. Pay Them a Fair Wage
They’re interns, they’re not slave laborers. Obviously some companies are better suited to paying their interns better than others, but pay them whatever you’re able to. An intern who knows a check is coming is far more likely to work hard for you than one who’s just getting the line of the resume.
4. Be Respectful and Professional
These seem like no-brainers, but many of today’s headlines prove that they might not be. Word of mouth has always been and will always be a powerful way of spreading the news about a company. You don’t want an intern heading back to college and telling a ton of peers what an awful experience working for your company was. And remember, millennials are pretty advanced with social media, word of mouth now reaches far more people than it used to.
5. Be Mindful of Their Hours
College graduates are pretty universally in debt upon graduating these days. Tuition rates have gotten so high that many college kids are having to work two part time jobs while they go to school just to keep their heads above water. More kids are living at home after graduation to help minimize their tuition debt. Point being, most interns these days probably have another job while they’re working for you. Talk to them and find out. You certainly don’t have to rearrange your schedule to fit theirs, but have an understanding of what their schedule is like and act with that in mind.
In the end, internships should be extremely beneficial for both sides. The intern should learn plenty, get a taste of the working world and make some solid contacts along the way. The business should get a hard worker who’s willing to do a lot of different tasks around the office and a chance to pass on some useful knowledge to the next generation entering the work force.