You walk through the doors on the first day of your big time internship wearing new, expensive clothes you bought yesterday at the mall and feeling pretty good about yourself. All your friends are jealous because they know this will totally set you up for life: Country club lifestyle here you come. The only problem is two weeks later you find yourself watching paid programming in your underwear at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday wondering how you got fired so easily. Chances are you broke one of these rules.
1. POST ABSOLUTELY NOTHING PERSONAL TO SOCIAL MEDIA
As soon as you add a new job on Facebook as “Summer Equity Analyst at Goldman Sachs,” all your posts will be tagged and watched. That means when you post a sweet Insta of you and all your friends taking shots at the club the night before a big meeting, your boss won’t be too happy. Jennifer Walls, summer intern with a New Jersey senator, said, “Be careful with friending your new boss on Facebook and use discretion with Instagram pictures. It’s really easy to get into big trouble posting stupid stuff.” The best way to #nofilter a pic is to not even post it at all.
2. DON’T BUY YOUR BOSS A GIFT
Seriously. You definitely don’t want to get your boss something he already has, or worse, make him feel uncomfortable. A nice thank you note will do just fine. “A weird kid who I’m interning with bought our boss a fifth of red berry flavored Ciroc vodka. So I would say don’t do that,” said Joe Barry, a summer intern for a New Jersey congressman.
3. DON’T BE SUPERMAN
Time to get off your high horse. A lot of interns think they can come in for just eight weeks and *BAM* solve a major corporate problem. Well, 99 times out of 100, they can’t. Tom Morton, a senior corporate counsel attorney at Sanofi Aventis, said he sees these kind of interns a lot. But do they succeed? “The most many do is just get in the way. Bunt singles are perfectly fine. You don’t need a home run.” Be effective and move the runner over. Don’t swing for the fences and strike out.
4. DON’T LEAVE A TASK INCOMPLETE
Just because you finish an assignment doesn’t mean it’s complete. One of the biggest mistakes interns make is not completing assignments to the fullest. “Once you finish your task as [an] intern, go back. Check it over. Edit it. Review it,” said Connell Foley Law partner Karen Scott. “If you hand me a piece that I think you just threw together that I have to make a bunch of basic edits on, you’re going to be in trouble. Complete the work.” The real corporate world and your “American History 101” class have very different standards. Learn that now.
5. DO NO HARM
While you may think it’s easy, “not making something worse” is more difficult than it seems. One day you’re casually working on a marketing ad for your company, and the next the company’s stock has plummeted and it’s all your fault. Okay—so chances of that actually happening aren’t very high, but the point remains. “If you do no harm, chances are you’ll be more successful,” Morton said, “Be careful and ask for help. If you’re dealing with a complicated subject, don’t be afraid to ask your boss for advice. You don’t want to make an error and give up an unearned run.”
You could be the best intern this side of the Mississippi, but if you make one of these mistakes just one time, you won’t even get a second and third strike. So be realistic, reasonable and use common sense. Leave the liquor store and get back to work.