Intern Etiquette

Get Ready for Summer!

Summer officially begins on June 21st. For lots of college students, however, their summer internship has already begun. If you are among these students who have left campus to temporarily join the working world, ensure that you make a great first impression by following these guidelines:

Study the culture of the organization. Every organization, in fact every department within an organization, has its own culture. As you begin your internship, very carefully study the culture of the department in which you have been placed. Members of the group will, in part, express the culture by their dress and by the manner in which they speak. If more senior members of the organization dress in a conservative manner, you should plan to do the same. This is true even if the organization has a casual dress policy. Similarly, if members of the group address each other formally, avoid lapsing into casual phrases such as "Hey dude." Remember, as an intern, your first goal is to fit into the group culture as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Business casual. You may have joined an organization in which business casual dress is the rule. In those cases, never forget that you are still dressing to work. In most work settings, some clothes are never appropriate. For example, torn jeans, tee-shirts, sundresses, and midriff-exposing outfits should be off limits in your work wardrobe. Until you see a more senior member of the organization wearing them, avoid slipping on a pair of sandals before heading into the office. And always save your flip-flops for the beach.

Calling Mr. Rogers. Long ago, when you were welcomed into Mr. Rogers' neighborhood, you were likely invited to address everyone you met by first name. That may or may not work in the office setting. Anticipate that most of your fellow workers will quickly encourage you to address them by their first names. Still, it's safest to defer to a more formal approach, especially when addressing the organization's more senior members. In these cases, use "Mr." and "Ms." until invited to do otherwise.

Beware of e-mail. If you're like most interns, you've become very comfortable with expressing your innermost thoughts via e-mail, using language which may or may not make others feel comfortable. Throughout your internship, hold off on expressing emotions-in typed text or via emoticons-in any e-mail written on a company or firm computer. Remember, all e-mails written at work should be work-related. Use business appropriate language, spelling, and grammar. Avoid text messaging abbreviations. And please, no smiley faces.

Speak like a professional. Your internship represents your first foray into today's work world. As you begin your professional life, work to sound like a professional at all times. In fact, make your motto, "I'm going to fake it, 'till I make it." Drop all of the slang you use at school as well as text messaging lingo. And by the way, every time someone expresses their thanks to you, avoid replying, "No problem." Instead, say, "I really enjoyed working on this project."

And when the summer ends . . . . Don't forget to thank everyone in the organization with whom you worked. And I mean everyone. Odds are the people in the library, the copy room, and even the mail room will have helped you throughout the summer. Remember them with a quick e-mail that expresses your appreciation. In the case of your direct supervisor, you may wish to express your appreciation with a small gift and a personal note. No need to go overboard here. Find something relatively small and inexpensive that expresses your thanks in a tasteful manner-maybe a picture frame for the supervisor who is also the parent of a budding Picasso or the latest literary thriller for the boss who is about to head off to the beach.

Always remember, this summer's internship is really a 10-week interview. Make the most out of it. With luck, you'll transform it into an important launching pad to a future career.

More from iMag Career:
• Mary Crane's Office Etiquette
• Casual Fridays Style Video
• How To Turn Your Internship Into A Job

**The above content is given to us and solely owned by Mary Crane of Mary Crane & Associates LLC.

A graduate of George Washington Law School, Mary Crane lobbied in Washington, D.C. for nearly 10 years before pursuing her life-long interests in food and wine. Crane enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America and, upon graduation, worked at the White House as an assistant chef. During this time, Crane discovered the important relationships between food, wine and business. Her desire to share this unique knowledge yielded Mary Crane & Associates. Today, Crane travels North America delivering high-impact, high-energy programs to Fortune 500 companies and more than 50% of the AmLaw100. She supports new employees by explaining how to quickly assimilate in today's fast-paced work environment. Crane also helps managers understand how to best recruit, motivate, and retain today's newest workers. • Visit her Web site