Internship Dos and Don’ts

Internship Dos and Don’ts


Aug 16, 2019

Blog Academic Institutions Internship Dos and Don’ts

You’ve worked hard to create a competitive resume and survived your interview, and you’re now interning at your first-choice job. Your internship is an important time to show off and demonstrate your best work to your boss and coworkers.

However, if this is your first internship, you may not always know how to behave professionally and make the most out of your time there.

Today’s blog will provide you with a list of dos and don’ts at your internship. It’s important to keep these tips in mind so that you’re considered when applying for a full-time position, your boss writes you a valuable reference and you adapt the professional skills you need for your next opportunity.


Arrive on Time

It’s important to arrive on time to work—it’s not only courteous to show up on time, but it demonstrates to your boss that you’re excited to work and you’re reliable.

Action: Traveling does not always go as planned—allow up to 10-15 minutes of “wiggle room” for traffic or a late train.

Greet Everyone

When you arrive each morning, it’s kind and respectful to walk in with a smile and say good morning to your coworkers. Your coworkers and boss want to be around people who have a friendly, positive attitude.

Action: It would also be smart to say goodbye to your coworkers when you leave for the day.

Communicate Professionally

Proofread your work and emails thoroughly and ensure that you’re using professional language. Also, when you’re communicating with your coworkers verbally, be mindful of what you’re talking about is work appropriate.

Action: Use this rule of thumb. If you’re considering saying something and you’re not 100% sure it’s office appropriate, don’t say it.

Take Initiative

Do not wait for work to be given to you. Advocate for yourself and contact to your boss or coworkers to see if there is anything that you can assist with. Advocating for yourself demonstrates that you’re independent and motivated to work hard.

Action: Ask your supervisors shortly after you arrive each morning if there are any tasks that needs to be done. If they’re in a meeting or on the phone, send them an email saying that you’re available if needed.

Come to Work Focused

Arrive to work each day with a clear head—this will ensure that you will complete your best work if you’re in the right frame of mind. If you’re dealing with a problem that is not work related, try your best to leave it at home.

Action: Wake up a little early each morning and practice restorative yoga or breathing so that you can come to work ready to focus.

Action: If you’re still struggling to focus on your work, take a walk or a water break to clear your mind.

Limit your Phone Use

Refrain from constantly checking notifications on your phone. This is not only a bad look—but since you’re on your company’s time, you want to ensure that you will be getting the most valuable and productive experience if you’re focused.

Action: If your phone is distracting you, leave it in your bag or put it on Do Not Disturb.

Take on Every Task

If you’re given a task that you aren’t super enthusiastic about, complete it no matter what. Regardless of how small or large the task is, every part helps your company succeed. More importantly, this will demonstrate that you are always around to help however you can.

Action: If you find yourself overwhelmed, ask your supervisor to help prioritize your tasks.

Engage with your Coworkers

It’s important to make connections with your boss and coworkers. This will not only expand your network and make your internship experience more enjoyable, but they likely have good career advice.

Action: Ask your coworkers if they would want to get a coffee or lunch with you to discuss their career path.

Ask for Feedback

Ask your boss to discuss your progress and how you can improve. This will not only demonstrate to your boss that you care about your work, but it will help you grow and reach your goals as an intern.

Action: Schedule weekly meetings with your boss to go over your highlights or tasks you can improve.


Take Long Lunch Breaks

Keep track of how long you are gone for lunch—it’s not only a bad look and inconsiderate to take a long lunch break, but your coworkers need help in the office.

Action: Don’t be gone for more than 30 minutes, even if your boss allows an hour.


Refrain from engaging in gossip in the office. Your coworkers will take note of this and may think of you as immature and not quite ready for the work world.

Action: Again, if you think that what you’re about to say is inappropriate, don’t say it.

Post on Social Media

Never take pictures or post confidential work information about what you’re doing at work on social media, unless you have permission.

Action: It’s okay to post about a special project or your accomplishments, but if you have to think twice about posting something, you probably shouldn’t do it.

Ask for Every Friday Off

Although you’re an intern, you’re still responsible for being present on Fridays. Your boss and coworkers may not think that you’re reliable if you request most Fridays off.

Action: If you need a day off or if you have a vacation planned, present your boss with the days you won’t be able to work with a considerable amount of notice.

Complain About Work You’re Given

Not only is it disrespectful to complain in the office, but sometimes in order to be a good intern, you have to help out with the grunt work. All of the work you do will contribute!

Action: Again, take on the tasks that come your way so that you can learn as much as you can.

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    Daniella Pascucci

    Written By Daniella Pascucci

    Daniella is our Academic Insights Strategist and a current senior at Bates College. She writes about challenges facing college students and tangible ways students can thrive in their academic and professional lives.

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