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The Chimpanzee – Social Tips For Internship Survival

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jul 10, 2012 in Career Path

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“5 Tips for Impressing Your Boss at an Internship”

In the African jungle, chimpanzees groom each other daily to solidify bonds with other community members. In the corporate jungle, helping out your co-workers during an internship can also help you develop relationships and improve your chances of survival.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, as the economy improves paid internships are on the rise. However, whether you are interning for a salary or for the learning experience, the relationships you develop at an internship will lead to valuable references and recommendations for the next steps in your career. Of all of these relationships, the one that you have with your boss is probably the most important. So how do you make the most of that opportunity? Here are five tips for impressing your boss at an internship.

1. Act like an employee.

One of the biggest mistakes interns make is acting as though an internship is just something that they are required to do. To make the most of your internship, whether it is paid or not, pick out the most positive cues that full-time employees are giving and follow them. For example, dress like others in the office even if the dress code for interns is more relaxed; offer to take a turn and bring in a treat if the office you’re working in has a snack day; or re-fill the coffee machine or copier as often as you can if it’s a shared responsibility. Make yourself part of the team and show that you have the savvy to fit into the environment of the workplace.

2. Keep busy – even when there is no work to do.

Since even a paid intern isn’t likely to be making as much as a full-time employee, managers often assign tasks to full-time employees first. By the end of the week, this might mean that there is no work for you to do. You should always ask your manager first if there is something to be done, but if there isn’t any work or your manager isn’t available, see what you can do besides surfing the internet. If the office plants need dusting or the shared copy room needs tidying, lend a hand. Offering to do filing for employees who seem to be drowning at their desks or just an extra hand to put together marketing packets will get you noticed as someone who is proactive and motivated. Even if your offers are not needed at the moment, advertising that you are available and enthusiastic will leave a great impression.

3. Be yourself.

When you leave your internship, you want others to remember you as a person, not as the temporary summer intern. The best way to make an impression is to be yourself, and not try to be someone else for the sake of impressing others. Be friendly, discuss common interests, and don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone you haven’t met yet. They could be a valuable reference.

4. Keep a positive attitude.

Interns have a unique place in the office hierarchy, and occasionally this can engender bad feelings. For instance, a manager might assign a project to an intern that a full-time employee wanted to work on. This isn’t any fault of the intern’s, but it isn’t as though the intern can re-assign the project to the employee who wanted it, either. When office conflicts like these come up, it’s best to keep a positive attitude and not get caught up in recriminations. The worst thing you can do is be remembered as the intern who couldn’t rise above office politics.

5. End with a thank you.

Whether or not you learned anything impressive during your internship, if you want to encourage your boss to remember you in a positive light you should make an effort to thank him or her before your departure. Save the thank you letter for your next job interview; schedule a face to face meeting with your manager and let him or her know what you learned because of their leadership and direction. At this stage, it’s okay to exaggerate a little – for instance, if your manager tried to teach you something but you ended up having to ask someone else for further clarification, go ahead and give your manager the credit. On the same note, you can also let your manager know who else really helped you. Giving out such kudos will definitely help your manager remember you later, as the intern who made the most of the opportunity and wasn’t afraid to give credit where credit was due. You might even get called back for the next open full-time position.

This guest post was contributed by Laura McPherson. Laura writes for Masters in Accounting, a career resource for learning about getting started in the accounting career field.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Animals – Sharing Office Space: Is It A Jungle Or A Zoo?

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Sep 22, 2010 in Executive Coaching, Self Improvement

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Do you share an office space? Are you swimming in a cubicle environment or crammed into an office with more than one person? Is office etiquette different when you are closer together? Yes! When you do not have your own space and your own door, you have to realize that you are around other people and that is where manners need a little jungle taming!

As a contractor on site at a client, I work in the field and share space with 2 other consultants. The quarters are tight and you have no privacy whatsoever. It’s a tough environment to work in, but even more challenging when:

1. Speakerphones! I have often run into this issue and I’ll bet you have too! Even if you are working in your own office space, the polite thing is to close the door so as not to disturb your co-workers. It does not matter how often you have conference calls, who you are calling, the reason, or even what you think you have to do simultaneously (surfing personal internet sites? = not professional), you do not have the luxury of putting a call on speaker when you are in close quarters.
Resolution: If this person is you, give up the speaker! If you have a speakerphone problem person, speak up and politely, but sternly, ask the person to not put their calls on speaker as it disturbs the productivity and personal space of others. (Or just nicely tell them it’s annoying!). Perhaps suggest to that person that they borrow a separate office space or go outside on their cell phones. Most companies can issue a laptop and have wireless internet available if they can plan to move to a different area.

2. Bodily Functions. (Ew!) Miss Manners would say in ANY environment, a gentleman or lady should not burp loudly in front of another person – or any other strange noise emissions. (However, in a work environment, I would venture to say that it’s more inappropriate.)
Resolution: If you are someone who burps loudly, a simple “excuse me” or an apology is appropriate (not: “well you’re in for a real treat today because I forgot my Gas-x.” I can’t make this stuff up!). The offense has already been committed; a slight effort towards damage-control helps co-workers think better of your manners. Burping is natural, but your response to it can make or break relationships. (No joke!). Faced with a burping co-worker, don’t encourage them and be proactive in setting an example for behavior.

3. Food. I can go in a million directions with this, but here are a couple of points: You should not try to cut a whole watermelon at your desk (or do any sort of food preparation outside of the kitchen beyond some condiments) and if your lunch has a very strong odor, not everyone may appreciate it, so please save it for home.
Resolution: Bringing lunch is great and cost-effective, but bringing the farm or sharing the wafting aroma with the entire office can send some people running or gagging. Cold food is typically safe as it usually has less of an odor. Anything that can be packed into Tupperware or comes in its own container is appreciated. Rule of thumb: if you can’t buy it in your building’s café, stop to think about how it could look/smell to others before you pack it for the office. Take it outside or try eating in a less-populated area of the office if you aren’t sure. And always keep your workspace free of lunch-leftovers! NO ONE wants to share a sticky, stinky office with a little critter or a hundred…

Keep these few things in mind and the jungle may seem a little less like a zoo!

Guest post by Michelle Cecchett

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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