Saturday, August 9, 2014

5 Things I've Learned about Rocking an Internship

As the summer winds down and I wrap up my internship with InStyle, I've had the opportunity to take time to reflect on the enormous amount I've learned through ASME.

Part of being an ASME intern means having exposure to many different magazines and professionals, and while I've taken away enough to fill volumes of books on what I've learned, when it comes to how to do well and how the wonderful ASME interns I know succeeded this summer, I think there are a few helpful rules of thumb that stand out to me.

1. Great interns are professional 

From how they dress to how they behave in the office, the great interns I know epitomize professionalism. It's easy to forget sometimes in the midst of all the fun that there are editors around, but they do pay attention.

You don't want to be remembered as the intern who wore skirts that were too short or the intern who gossiped constantly. Professionalism is part of making a great impression.

2. Great interns take initiative

Taking initiative and being a proactive intern is sometimes easier said than done, but it is crucial nonetheless. One of my editors remembers an intern from years ago who volunteered to organize the file cabinets when she didn't have anything to do instead of sitting around and waiting for work. If you aren't doing anything, create your own work.

Come up with story ideas, organize something, introduce yourself to someone new, and don't be afraid to speak up and ask if anyone needs help, because that initiative can really pay off and make you a memorable intern.

3. Great interns pay attention to office culture

Paying attention to office culture may seem like a given, but it can be surprising how often interns overlook this. Watch how the professionals in your office act and try to mirror them.

During my first week at InStyle, I noticed that the senior editors often left their doors open and other interns would pop their heads in to talk. Noticing that made it easier for me to approach these editors and introduce myself, ask them to coffee and get to know an influential person in a different way.

Not every office is necessarily that accessible, but paying attention to my office's culture allowed me to figure that out quickly and take advantage of it.

4. Great interns are self-sufficient

Being self-sufficient doesn't mean that you don't ask questions when you are confused about something (you should) but it does mean that you can rely on your instincts enough to not pester your editor about every facet of your job.

Editors are impressed by interns who can get the job done quickly and efficiently without making 12 phone calls for specific directions. If your editor sends you on an errand and the Duane Reade doesn't have what you're looking for, check the similar store across the street before asking your editor. It might just save you that call.

5. Great interns end on a good note

When I say end on a good note, I mean literally. Write the people you worked with thank you notes to show them that you appreciated your time working with them and you want to maintain that relationship. Some of my editors have thank you notes they've received on their desks, so it truly does not go unnoticed.

--Written by Alexandra Whittaker, Marquette University, InStyle

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