6 Pieces of Advice We Hear Over and Over Again
By Leah Fagen, Newhouse NYC student and junior PR major
Just as I was recovering from the shock that it was already October, we have now officially moved on to November. This semester is absolutely flying by! We’ve been incredibly lucky to hear from so many accomplished alumni and speakers. Here’s a recap of some of the tips we’ve been hearing all the time (they’re the extra important ones):
1. Bring a notepad with you wherever you go.
This is possibly the most straightforward tip we’ve been given, but it’s an important habit to form early on. Although it has probably happened to most of us at one point or another, you never want to be the intern who shows up for an assignment without the proper supplies for jotting it down. Chances are you won’t remember all of it, and your boss won’t be fooled into thinking you have a memory that never fails. Bringing a notepad and pen with you also shows you’re thinking one step ahead and are ready for whatever task your boss gives you next.
2. Do menial tasks well and with a smile.
Not every assignment is going to be glamorous. In fact, most probably won’t be. But performing even the most boring, mindless tasks well is crucial. How can your boss expect you to handle more complicated assignments if you can’t even organize a pile of papers that has been sitting on her desk? Taking this tip one step further: it’s even better to do your work with a good attitude. If you can find the importance in everything you do, before you know it, those menial tasks will feel a lot more meaningful.
3. Be nice.
You’ve spent years taking classes, gaining experience and building up your resume. That should be enough to get you a job, right? Not entirely. A huge part of landing a job or internship is likeability, and that’s something that isn’t necessarily reflected on your LinkedIn page. Nobody wants to sit across from the person who is constantly complaining or who talks badly about coworkers. In order to be a well-liked intern, you have to be nice. Listen when people speak, help your coworkers when they need it and be thoughtful in all you do. And hey, it never hurts to be nice outside of the office, too.
4. Always write thank you notes.
One of the most important items on our packing list for this semester was a box of thank you notes. Whenever people take the time to meet with you, show you around their office or help you connect with someone else, you should send them a thank you note. Whether you prefer to do it via email or via snail mail is up to you, but it’s a meaningful gesture that shows you really appreciate their time. Don’t be afraid to fill the note with specific details about things they said that resonated with you or thoughts you’ve had since meeting with the person; people love hearing about how helpful they are. Plus, who doesn’t love a handwritten note? They’re so uncommon these days, especially among the younger demographic, so sending one is sure to leave a lasting impression—just remember to write neatly!
Part of being a successful intern is being able to balance your time and anticipate what will be needed next. Maybe you’re given a list of assignments for the day, or maybe you’re given a “do now” list and a list of long term projects, but either way you need to learn how to think one step ahead. Will your boss have questions about what you did? Answer them before he even has to ask. Is there a piece of crucial information missing? Include it because it’s always easier for someone to go back and delete unnecessary information than to have to do more research later. Are you twiddling your thumbs in your free time? Organize the storage room that is overflowing with supplies. Think ahead starting now, and the office will thank you later.
6. Get to know everyone around you.
This tip goes hand in hand with some of the others, but it’s important enough to earn its own spot on this list. Talking to as many people as possible will help you gain a further understanding of your company, the industry as a whole, and your role in it. The person to your left might be working on a project that is of interest to you, and maybe you share a hobby with the person on your right. Not only will getting to know the people you spend so much time with make your internship a more enjoyable experience, but you never know who you may end up working with down the road in this small world that is the communications industry.