Monday, January 10th, 2011

8 Surefire Ways to Blow your Internship or Student Job

Internship Gossiping

Even in a professional environment, people get caught up in office gossip. Avoid these people.

Crazy intern stories become folklore and always get a good laugh. Ask if any of those students were offered fulltime employment and suddenly it isn’t as funny.

Approached professionally, internships and student jobs can be a great springboard for your career. Fail to be a professional and you might ruin your prospects.

These are mistakes that cost people their summer job or their internship

1. Consistently arrive late or leave early

Outlier is a numerical term for a point that is distant from the rest of the data. Never be the outlier. If everyone else arrives at 8:00 and you stroll in at 10:00, you are the outlier. Tardiness sets you apart from the pack.

2. Missed deadlines

Setting expectations of your ability to meet a deadline is critical. Fail to meet a deadline and you screw everyone on a project. Miss a few deadlines and less projects come your way. Miss too many and your last deadline will be “Clean out your desk by lunch.”

3. Pretend that you know something when you don’t

At the early stages of your career you aren’t expected to know everything. Pride can be a real threat here. Pretending to be an expert when you have no knowledge of a topic guarantees failure. Setting honest expectations about your experience and knowledge can help align you with the right projects and learning opportunities.

4. Make excuses when you screw something up

Accountability is valued. If you made a mistake, own it. People make mistakes everyday. Screwing something up is one of the best ways to learn. Wisdom is merely scar tissue. No one wants to work with someone who is eager to shift blame.

5. Gossiping

Even in a professional environment, people get caught up in office gossip. Avoid these people. The catty employee who tells stories about others is just as likely to tell a story about you. Keep away from the scuttlebutt because your name or comments may make their way through the grapevine.

6. Become intoxicated at a company event

The fact that alcohol is served is not an invitation to overindulge. Don’t ruin your reputation by getting drunk and throwing up in a trashcan or worse yet, on someone else. Speaking from experience, as a boss I will never forget the employee who vomited on my shoes.

7. Remove clothing while dancing at an event

Following up on that last point, dancing after too many drinks is bad. Removing articles of clothing (even if you’re hot) is worse. If bits of you are peaking out of loose tank tops or shorts, you aren’t being professional.

8. Attempt to remove someone else’s clothing at an event

Now you’re just asking to be fired. If your mind is telling you to go there, get a cab and call it a night.

Charles Gillis
Author: Charles Gillis
Charles Gillis is the Executive Director of a law firm based in Dallas. He received his BA and MBA from the University of Texas.
Post a comment
  1. Marisa Says:

    Great article! All good tips. It is very important to be honest about what you can do and to apologize when something goes wrong.

  2. Preacher Says:

    Everybody should have to read this list of pointers before embarking on an internship, or even a new job. It is so often that people lack the skill to follow these simple virutes. PEOPLE! PLEASE READ THIS!! : )

  3. Matt Says:

    A lot of good points. Worth the read.

  4. bradleyJb Says:

    Point # 3 is so important. I meet so many people (interns and not) that can’t own up to not knowing. Sometimes it can be a refreshing change to have someone say: “I didn’t know that – teach me more”. You may not know everything but if you show you are engaged you will definitely be noticed.

  5. Clinton Says:

    This is a great post!

    Internships can be a great stepping stone to a full time job. You always want to keep that in mine when embarking on your career path.


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