Based on the knowledge I’ve accrued during my own internship experiences (three under my belt, thus far) and speaking with working professionals, here are some short tips for making the most of your summer as an intern:
DO take every chance you can get to explore the city or locale where you’re interning. You never know what you’re going to see and who you’re going to meet, and who knows, maybe you’ll want to work in the same city after graduation. This is your chance to indulge in your touristy desires and see for yourself if DC (or any other city) is the right place, career and personality-wise, for you to settle down in the future.
*Recommended to me by a coworker (thanks, Stacy!), the Washington Post has an excellent website with resources for DC interns, such as budget bites in the city, summer events & checklists and etc.
On the other hand, DO prioritize your internship. You are here in DC, first and foremost, to work and learn in the most politically charged and engaging atmosphere you will ever encounter. This means knowing when to stop drinking at happy hour before you do something you’ll later regret in front of your coworkers and/or bosses. This means completing your projects in a timely fashion and staying late at work, when necessary. This means being proactive and asking questions when you’re unclear about a task or project.
DO network. Julie has provided an excellent guide below for doing so. Get out of your office and go strike up a conversation with your coworkers. It can be about something as mundane as coding or as interesting as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act!
DO display professionalism at all times. You just never know who is listening or watching. A professional attitude also extends to how you dress and how you carry yourself in the office.
DO try to live with other interns for the duration of your internship. Not only will your rent be cheaper, but you’ll also be pushed to socialize and go to events in the city. Brittney and I can attest to the value of having a roommate who is also a fellow intern.
DO NOT eat lunch alone. Unless, of course, you have work to do for your internship. Use the lunch hour as a time to network, connect with people in your office and/or in our team’s case, to discuss the direction of this blog.
DO NOT go on Facebook or social media websites at work, unless you’re a social media marketing intern or your internship requires you to visit those sites. Resist the urge, folks.
DO NOT engage in office gossip. This is not “The Office” and you are not Michael Scott.
DO NOT take your heels or dress shoes off under the table–no matter how uncomfortable your footwear may be. You’d be surprised at how many interns kick off their shoes at a conference table while they are in a meeting. It is unappealing, unprofessional and the last thing your fellow employees would want to see.
DO NOT go to work if you are contagious. Nobody wants to see an intern yakking up a storm and spreading their germs in their work environment. Please do yourself and your coworkers a favor and stay home. It’s for the best.