A Career Intern’s Guide to Interning
Peter Panda

Alright summer interns everywhere, I’m about to slap you with some truth. Not the BS your professor told you about using correct punctuation in emails, but real world stuff that will make you the best intern ever and leave people in awe of your awesomeness that could lead to gainful employment post-grad.

While in college and for a while after, I was incredibly fortunate to land some great internships. Intern experience is the most important thing to future employers; GPA and summer lifeguarding positions show little in comparison. The fact that you spent a summer backpacking through Europe doesn’t exactly display work ethic, but the fact that you rocked an internship absolutely does. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your time as an intern.

  1. Know when to speak up.
    Some of my fellow interns never said a word in meetings. Some would try to speak over their boss. Don’t do either of those. Pay attention, sound smart without blatantly using every buzzword you know, and choose your time to interject wisely. If that opportunity doesn’t present itself, write it up an email and mention you didn’t want to speak out of turn. If your thoughts aren’t half bad, you’ll make a name for yourself.
  2. Ask people out to lunch.
    Get with your coworkers over a mid-day meal and learn about them. Ask about their jobs, family, favorite restaurants, what they do for fun. The more you connect with them the more they are likely to remember you down the road. The more you buddy up to them, the more likely you are to get cooler projects. Becoming friendly with coworkers also makes your experience much more enjoyable.
  3. Make your work kick ass.
    When you have an opportunity to do good work, take it. Make your boring intern projects exceptional and prove you’re worthy of bigger things. That is the quickest way to impress those around you and set yourself apart. “There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.” Zig Ziglar
  4. Beware of office politics.
    Fortunately, Elasticity doesn’t really have them, so I don’t have to worry about it now, but they do exist. Make sure you steer clear of that drama. Do whatever you can to not get wrapped up in it and stay out of the fray.
  5. Dress to the nines.
    ElasticityBlog_Brad_03192013B-2
    This sounds shallow, but if you come to work dressed well it tells people you’re put together. If you show up looking fresh, you will stand out. Little known fact, but the brain uses the same area to judge attractiveness as it does competency. That’s no bull. I needed all the help I could get in both of those categories, so I went shopping. “Brad always had the best pants.” – Dave Collet, former internship boss and guy who found me a job.

 

Good luck with your internship, but if you follow those tips you won’t need it. Just remember hard work pays off.

Peter Panda

Pioneering social media panda bear Tagawa “Peter” Panda was born on a Chinese game reserve in 1969. He emigrated to the United States in 1987 speaking no English, with only the fur on his back and $97 stored in a Jansport fanny-pack wrapped around his waist.

In 2003 while searching for food on the campus of Washington University, he discovered a computer lab where he would ultimately teach himself web development, graphic design, and immerse himself into the growing digital media evolution that was erupting at the time.

With his trademark surly demeanor developed during beatings on his boat ride from China to the U.S., as well as having a penchant for eating vast quantities of bamboo, and enjoying Scotch and cigars, Peter is broadly recognized for coining the phrase “social media” in 2004. He joined Elasticity in late 2009 as the agency’s director of social media strategy and wildlife relations. Friend him on Facebook here.

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