Common Mistakes Most Interns Make


“I had an intern a couple of jobs ago who told us on his first day that he was psychic and could predict our requests, and then he made us sit down to listen to his divination podcast.”


“I had an intern request a meeting, and they had a prepared a long list of complaints and grievances.

“I understand that sometimes things do not work out exactly as you expect. But this is the worst way to handle it. If you are struggling early on, go to your manager with a list of questions, not complaints. It is way too early to become a problem employee. And looking for the problems will only keep you from seeing the opportunities.”


“I once worked at a magazine where another intern committed a cardinal sin of journalism: She didn’t understand the difference between transcribing an interview and paraphrasing it. Her script butchered the source’s quotes and nearly got the writer in loads of trouble. So, whether you work in media, finance, or law, you may be asked to transcribe something someday. Ask how the person likes it prepared.”

Not taking initiative

“The biggest mistake interns make is not taking initiative. Some interns treat the fact that they’re an intern as permission to sit back and wait for things to happen — like in grade school, when our only job as students was to sit and be taught.

“One of the things I love about Business Insider is that we’re encouraged to make our careers. Interns should embrace that ideal and be proactive every day.”

Using the office as a crash pad

“The biggest mistake I saw was an intern sleeping at the office overnight. They went out and got drunk and then came back to the office, maybe to pick up their things, and ended up falling asleep drunk on the couch in the reception area. Someone who had the night shift saw them, took a photo, and sent it to me.

“We spoke to the intern later and explained that the office is not a place to bunk at night or on weekends, and it’s especially never a good idea to come back to the office after a night of drinking, because what good can come of that?”

Not understanding boundaries

“I had an intern at my old job who seemed totally normal and competent enough in her interview but ended up being the actual worst. Not only was she rude a lot of the time — thinking that standard intern tasks, like producing articles in our CMS and writing out product credits, were beneath her. She once went over my and my coworkers’ head and emailed the CEO about some ideas she had for the company. She had no sense of boundaries and displayed very little respect for her managers.”

Leaving for another internship

“I once had an intern who quit a month into the internship to take another internship. So basically I spent many hours training her, checking in with her, making sure she was doing things she was interested in — and then she left us high and dry, having to look for a new intern in the middle of the season. This is a great way to irreparably burn a bridge, something that should be avoided, especially at the beginning of your career.”

Working for free

“I’d say one big mistake that I made once back in my interning days was taking an unpaid internship.

“I thought it would be fine since I was supporting myself with another job working in restaurants and gaining experience for a career change. It started out great, but at one point during that time I had a health issue and was barely able to report to the job that paid my rent and expenses. (I was uninsured at the time, too. This was before people could stay on their parents’ insurance until they were 26.) I had to bail on my unpaid gig since it just didn’t make sense to keep spending all that time and energy working for free.

“They were OK with it, and probably would have given me follow-up recommendations if I’d asked, but I ended up resenting the experience because I felt like my work had been exploited, so I never asked. I later found another gig that didn’t pay a lot, but still something, which meant I could at least cut back a few work hours elsewhere.

“It’s a mistake to let your work be undervalued.”

Source – businessinsider


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