10 Mistakes To Never Make During Your Internship

Being successful at your internship requires a delicate balance. On one end, this is the first opportunity for you to enter the ‘real world’ and gain a vast knowledge of experience; while on the other, it can be an exciting time to temporarily live in a new city. Plus, being in the position where no matter what happens, you can return to school is a pretty rare experience.

Although internships are a time to have fun and explore, they also hold real consequences; many of the decisions you make as an intern can cost you gravely down the road. Don’t get me wrong, as this is your first rodeo, people are expecting you to make mistakes. However,  there are certain things that are considered standard procedure (and quite frankly, common sense), which are good to look after so you can have an all-star experience:

Responding Poorly Under Pressure

Even if one of your co-workers is flying succumbing to anger, it’s important to remain cool under pressure. Remember, you’re still trying to prove yourself here, so bear in mind that humility and poise go a long way. If the situation escalates to a point where you feel unsafe, uncomfortable, or, even, unable to work productively talk to a superior that has the authority to remedy the situation.

Showing Up Late

According to a survey by YouGov, one in five employees in the U.S. arrive late to work at least once a week. And as an intern, you should do your best never be one of them. Not only does it show a lack of care, but it additionally could harbor any chances of you getting a job with the company later down the road. Even though it seems like something that happens to everyone, you need to be better than the majority to excel.

Failing Your Drug Test

Perhaps one of the most embarrassing intern instances is failing a drug test right off the bat.  While some of you might scoff at this ever happening, a survey from Quest Diagnostics found that employees failing drug tests are at a 12-year high. In short, if you feel the need to party, hold off until after you’ve been working for awhile.

Showing Up Hungover

A lot of college kids look at internships as an extended summer vacation, with sitting in an office from 9-5 as a simple stipulation of the fun. However, this mentality can be costly, as it shows immaturity and a lack of commitment to growth. According to an estimate conducted by FiveThirtyEight, approximately 1.6% of the total workforce shows up to work hungover. This means if you decide to go a little too hard on a Tuesday, you’ll not only be the odd person out but potentially frowned upon for not taking your job as seriously as your peers.

Trying To Play Hooky

While a lot of new interns might have the perception that calling in sick when you’re not is a sure-fire way to have a day off, it’s one of the most common reasons people get fired. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, approximately 15% of employers have fired someone for calling in without a legitimate concern. Plus, who knows? You might actually need those sick days later on.

Posting Negative Comments About Work On Social Media

I know this one seems like a “well, duh” type point, but you’d be surprised at how often people get fired for this. After being settled in for a couple of months, people get comfortable to start voicing their opinion about work. In fact, a recent case in Chicago questioned on if it was legal or not for an employer to fire someone for posting negatively about their job on Facebook. While every workplace varies, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Taking On An Unpaid Internship

Most of us get internships for the experience, with the hope of one day gaining full-time employment. However, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 63% of paid interns were more likely to gain full-time employment after their internship versus the 37% of unpaid. Getting paid means you’re being taken more seriously, which is something you should consider.

Working Longer, Not Smarter

You might think that working long hours will earn brownie points, but that’s not always the case. According to research presented by Harvard Business Review, working overtime has minimal effect on productivity. And believe it or not, employers know when you’re not being forthright about working overtime, which can end up costing you in the future.

Forgetting to Study Up

Even after you’ve aced the interview, you should constantly be studying for the job. As a survey conducted by Pew Research notes, employers are looking less at your actual degree but rather the credentials and experience that you’ve gotten on your own. These skills will bolster your chances of getting an offer and are transferable across your field as well.

Not Taking On An Opportunity To Learn

In a recent piece in The New York Times on Millennials’ relationships with internships, a majority of people admitted to feeling stuck in a whirlwind of internship after internship. A big reason for this cyclical mentality is a lack of clear objectives; if you approach your internship search without any sense of what you want to learn or experience, chances are you’ll end up wasting your time on a free internship that is completely unrelated to your interests or skills. Don’t waste your time doing free work, and especially don’t waste your time with something you’re not going to learn anything from. Internships are an opportunity to grow, so treat it as such.

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