Here are 15 helpful guidelines for interns who want to achieve high levels of professionalism in the workplace:
1. Most important- Always be on time! In an emergency, call if late.
2. Dress in a professional manner.
• Ask your mentor what’s appropriate for the office.
3. Develop a good relationship with your Mentor:
• Make sure you understand his/her expectations.
• Keep your mentor up-to-date on the projects you’re involved in.
• Follow-up on your mentor’s requests right away.
• Be willing to take on new (and sometimes dull) responsibilities.
• Distinguish between problems that require your mentor’s attention and those that you might handle alone.
• Don’t take things too personally- do your best to think positively.
4. Develop a good relationship with co-workers:
• Be friendly.
• Don’t speak critically of others or the company policies.
• Be a good listener.
• Know where you fit in the hierarchy-this effects how you deal with others.
• Develop a team mentality:
Take the initiative, but don’t over-step your bounds.
• Complete assignments on time.
• Ask if there’s anything else you can do.
5. Arrange to receive a schedule, if applicable, to learn what meetings to attend, what information you should have in advance, what role you should play, etc.
6. Speak up! Don’t be afraid to make suggestions and ask questions. Your mentor is a busy person and will want you to take as much initiative as possible in establishing a good working relationship.
7. Get to know your mentor’s secretary/assistant. She/he can be very helpful.
8. Try to learn as much as you can about your work environment. With permission, move around to other offices; try to meet other key people to learn what they do, etc.
9. Let someone in the office know where you are at all times: where you are going, where you can be reached by telephone, when you will be back.
10. Plan to spend the first two weeks getting to know your mentor, the staff and the company. Ask your mentor if there might be a special project that you might work on. This will help you to establish your own activities at the workplace.
11. Take notes about everything. Notes provide a good record about what you should be doing at work and will be a handy reference for journal entries and later on your college application essays.
12. See if you can establish a meeting time with your mentor on a weekly basis when you can discuss questions you have written down, what you’re learning, plans for the future, etc. You may have to take the initiative in this regard, but it’s very important that they get to know you as an individual.
13. Be a volunteer. Think of additional ways that you can increase your value and learn more about the office. For example, you might volunteer to follow-up on phone calls and or correspondence.
14. When calling other offices, emphasize the name of the Mentor rather than your own name. Example: “This is Commissioner John Smith’s office calling, and my name is Joe Johnson.” You will get faster results this way.
15. Finally, at the end of your internship, send a hand written thank you note to your mentor.
Many of our students keep in touch with their mentors for years to come.