After my first two days interning for a nonprofit public relations agency in Portland, I have come up with five things that all interns should know:
1. Show up early. I like to be on time whether it’s a work function or a casual Jamba Juice date with a friend. Yesterday was my first day taking the max to work, and let me tell you, I obviously don’t know how to gage the train schedule. I had to be to work at 8:30 a.m., but wound up stepping off the bus at 7:25. Whoops. Although I was over an hour early, it was far better than being five minutes late. An employer wants to know you take them seriously, the work seriously and yourself seriously. Being late is the fastest way to tarnish that good relationship.
2. Know the dress code. I am working for a nonprofit agency in downtown Portland with a business casual dress code. For men, that’s easy: a dress shirt and slacks. For women, there’s a lot of ways that can be taken. Is a skirt too dressy? Are heels appropriate? I went with the golden rule: overdressed is better than underdressed. Turns out I was slightly overdressed, but that just tells the company that you mean business. Under-dressing would be far worse!
3. Go out to lunch. It is important to make a good impression during this internship process. We need to get to know as many people as possible. That is why it is important to always go out to lunch with the office when the chance becomes available. You want to show them that you fit into the culture of the office.
4. Don’t assume anything. Assuming you know what you’re doing can lead to mistakes. Take time to read over information and documents two or three times! Today I was to read online posts about some of the nonprofit clients my company works with. Since I did not know much about them before this experience, I started researching two weeks prior to the internship; I am so glad I did. With a better understanding of the clients, I am way more prepared.
5. Make yourself indispensable. I am striving to be a valuable asset to the company that hired me to intern. They might not offer me a job, but they definitely have connections outside this office. My goal is to have a job offer somewhere in Portland by the end of these 78 days. Let the journey begin.