Internships are very important to both of us. They 110% shaped our career, gave us our first dose of professionalism, and we are still both close to our very first intern supervisors.
One of our first bosses said to us ‘tell me what you want out of this experience.’ We really took that to heart and every single employee and intern that comes to theSkimm is asked ‘what do you want out of this? You work hard for us. We will work hard to help you get where you want to go.’
So with that in mind … here are our best practice tips for how to be a strong intern anywhere:
-Stalk the exec team (a little). They are busy and appreciate when you follow up.
-Don’t just wait for someone to assign you something. See who looks like they need help and ask if you can help. Offer HOW you can help.
-Also know when to wait for someone to give you something. If this sounds like a song and dance, it is. Time to learn the tango.
-Ask the highest up person you can get to for coffee. You’d be shocked by how few people do this and how much the execs will remember that you did this.
-Don’t tell your boss about vacation at the last minute. Skimm A once told her intern manager she was taking a week off to see her boyfriend. With one week notice. This was a very, very stupid thing to do. Do not do this.
-Don’t bring your friends to work. This isn’t show and tell. This is a place of business and no matter how informal the office environment seems, bringing your friends and family to work with you is not OK. Skimm B once brought her boyfriend to work because he was visiting from out of town. Everyone seemed so supportive. When Skimm B thinks about this now she wants to disappear.
-If someone helps you … follow up with them. If you used a connection to help get the internship, make sure to update your connection if you did or didn’t get it. It’s shocking how often this doesn’t happen.
-Don’t leave without a letter of recommendation. As much as everyone loved you, the reality is there will be at least three more intern shifts that will come through before you ask for a letter of recommendation a year later. Specifics about your performance will become a memory. Get someone to write the letter before you leave.
-Write a thank you note. If you think it’s a good idea to leave your internship without writing thank you notes, it is not a good idea.
-Stay in touch. Seriously. Even if you know you don’t want to work at that specific company again, you never know how these connections will help you in the future and who you may end up working with again one day.
Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg are co-founders and co-CEOs of theSkimm, a media company that makes it easier to be smarter. theSkimm reaches an engaged community of over 5 million active subscribers through the Daily Skimm, the fastest growing email newsletter, theSkimm app, Skimm Studios, and Skimm Studies.
A previous version of this post appeared on Medium.