Written by Lucero Pina – Program Advisor, the Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service
Interning in DC during the summer can be one of the most fascinating and exciting experiences. It becomes incredibly easy to get lost in a city that has history around every corner and opportunities up every avenue. Harnessing those opportunities is probably the most important thing that you can do here, and it all begins with your internship!
Being an intern gives you the chance to see the inner workings of an organization and helps you grow. However, this also means that eyes are on you! An internship can function as a two month interview so watch out with what you do and say. Most importantly, don’t be #ThatIntern….
1. “My alarm didn’t go off” Intern
Whether you are a night owl or an early riser, set as many alarms as needed to help you get up and ready for your day at the office. If you are running late, send a quick text or e-mail to your supervisor and let them know that you are going to be in soon (Don’t make this a habit!). The most important thing is to keep everyone informed. When you make it in, don’t be #ThatIntern who blames their alarm for not going off.
2. “Can I go home now” Intern
There will be days when you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, and you will not complete half of the things that you were assigned for that day. Other days you will look at your to-do list and imagine a prairie field because of the lack of items on your list. If you are caught in the latter, do not be #ThatIntern and ask if you can go home. Not only does this show a lack of respect for the organization, but this also portrays a lack of interest because there is ALWAYS something to do! Organize materials in the copy room, look at the organization’s PR materials and come up with a list of suggestions, ask people from different departments if they need help. Do something to keep yourself involved in your work but do not be #ThatIntern who asks to go home because they have nothing to do.
3. “That’s not my job” Intern
If you are asked to make copies for a meeting, deliver something to the mail room, put stamps on envelopes, just like Nike, #JustDoIt! As an intern you provide invaluable support to your organization and sometimes that means doing the little things as well as large projects!
4. “Inappropriate” Intern
While in DC you will not only try to market yourself as a potential hire, but you will also represent TFAS, your organization and your school. That being said, be mindful of what you do, what you say and how you say it. If you are invited to social events and you are not 21, don’t drink if alcohol is being served. If you are 21, limit yourself to 1-2 drinks. You never know who might be at the reception and witnessing your behavior.
5. “Know it all” Intern
Remember that the professionals at your internship have more experience than you. While it is important to share your opinions and suggestions, make sure you are listening to your supervisors and learning from their guidance. You don’t want to come off as the “know it all” intern.