Posted tagged ‘internship etiquette’

It’s the first day at your new internship! 4 tips to keep in mind…

September 20, 2010

You’re probably a bit nervous about your internship even if your internship supervisor has sent you information to prepare you for the first day.  Don’t worry, it happens to everybody!  If anything, remember these 4 basic tips to get you through those first-day jitters.

  • How to dress:  Dress conservatively and formally for the first day. Select clothing in neutral colors and traditional design. Choose styles that will cover up any tattoos; remove obvious body jewelry or piercings. A good rule of thumb is not to go to extremes in terms of clothing, jewelry, or scents. A conservative hairstyle is preferred.
  • For women:  Women should make sure that skirts aren’t too short, slacks aren’t too tight, and necklines aren’t too low. A stylish white shirt is always a safe choice. Wear light make-up and no more than one ring per hand. This may be a good time to treat yourself to a manicure. Stay with small earrings and a matching necklace.
  • For men:  Men should wear a preferably white shirt with a conservative tie. If you wear a sport coat, go for a solid navy or one with a subtle pattern. Keep your dress shoes in meticulous condition. Your socks should match slacks and shoes. Leave your baseball cap and sneakers at home along with your pinky rings, necklaces, or bracelets.
  • What to bring:  You might want to take a briefcase/computer case with you to carry items.  Be prepared to meet with your supervisor to discuss company expectations, goals, and performance assessment. Also, bring a notepad to jot down the names of people you meet, ensuring that you can address them correctly the next day.
  • How to act: Take your lead from your internship supervisor. He/she will give you your assignments and your daily schedule.  Ask questions if you don’t understand your duties and ask for help if any of the technology baffles you. Avoid long chats with employees and stay on safe subjects, such as the weather or sports. Unsafe subjects are money, religion, and politics.  And don’t make any social calls on your cell phone, or text while you’re working!
  • Who to meet: Your internship supervisor will introduce you to the people with whom you’ll be working. Do address each person by his/her surname or last name, such as Mr. Jones or Miss Smith, unless that person tells you to use his/her first name. And always address superiors by their last names, such as Mr. or Mrs. Doe even if they tell you to call them by their first names. If possible, meet any other interns to build a support system.

Q. It’s been too hot to wear a lot of clothing to work, but my internship supervisor said I’m not dressing professionally. What should I do?

July 26, 2010

A. You’re right about the weather. This summer is the hottest one in recorded US weather history. However, you’re wrong about your wardrobe. You might want to under dress to survive the heat, but you won’t win any points at your internship, according to a recent article: “From booty shorts to belly shirts, some intern fashions make companies cringe,” in The Baltimore Sun newspaper. The article made the following points: 

  1. In Washington, DC, the term “skinterns” has evolved for the scantily-clad summer staff.  Remember Monica Lewinsky, President Clinton’s compromised intern?  Your own reputation may suffer or staffers may start calling you “Monica” if you refuse to wear an accepted intern uniform, such as a white blouse and dark slacks or skirt and closed shoes.
  2. Other unprofessional clothing includes booty shorts, thigh-grazing dresses, flip-flops, ripped jeans, cleavage-baring tops, see-through skirts…If necessary, you could wear such items on the way to work, but make sure that you take proper clothing with you and change into your professional outfit before you enter the office.
  3. The Sun article reminds interns that students may incorrectly think that being “dressed up” for work means being in their best, night-on-the-town outfits. But leave your bar clothes at home because employers first judge you by your appearance. You may meet clients and customers, and your appearance reflects the company’s image. Career experts urge you to err on the conservative side.
  4. Thank your internship supervisor for taking the time to discuss your appearance. Then, ask for some tips on the dress code, so you can conform to company standards. Your gracious acceptance of constructive criticism may earn you some points with your supervisor. And make sure to follow through immediately. Also, check with your school’s career center to see if they offer a course in business etiquette, so you’re better prepared for the next internship.