The Do's and Don'ts of Interning

MagazineCosmopolitan For Latinas' very own web intern Thalia Ortiz shares her tips on how to rock your internship to the fullest! Here are 5 things you should do and 5 things you should never do.

By Thalía Ortiz

Remember how ridiculously mean Miranda (Meryl Streep) in the Devil Wears Prada was to Andy (Anne Hathaway) while she was working at Runway magazine? As much as I love watching that movie (it's one of my favorites), I couldn't help but get crazy nervous the night before my first internship ever at Cosmo for Latinas. I knew diddly squat about the magazine world and thought for sure that I would get chewed out by a Miranda-type for screwing up like Andy.

I was completely wrong and have met so many people at CFL who are like a family willing to help interns get their foot in the door and patiently show them the ropes. I seriously have the coolest internship and I've learned a couple of things along the way to be the best intern I can possibly be. Whether you're planning on getting an internship, starting one, or close to finishing there are always some do's and dont's.

Do get a reality check

Before walking into that office building every morning, check your ego at the door. You are an intern and your job is to help make the business or organization run more efficiently. Take any work that you can and always make yourself available to anyone that needs your help.

Even something as simple as cleaning up a section of the office can take stress off of someone's shoulders. Yeah, it might not be the most exciting thing, but people will remember when you help them. Go in with a smile on your face every morning and be happy to be there because there's always someone out there who would kill to have your opportunity.

Related: The Highest Paying In Demand Jobs For Latinas

Don't be a diva
Let's face it, nobody likes a diva, especially when it's an intern. You are not there to whine and complain about not wanting to make copies for the 100th time. There's a purpose to every task that you're being given, even if it is the most mundane task. Definitely don't complain if you're not getting paid because most internships don't pay anyway. It's a learning experience. Rolling your eyes, along with huffing and puffing, are a one way ticket to getting the boot.

Do ask questions
Save yourself a lot of time and trouble and ask as many questions as you can. Why? Because you could make a mistake on a task you were given to do that could have been avoided by asking the right questions. Your supervisors sometimes might assume that you know how to do something, but if you don't, just come right out and say it instead of nodding along.

I can't tell you how many times I've emailed our web editor's inbox asking for clarification on something I didn't understand! In the process, the answers to my question made things go along a lot smoothly. Remember, if you get it right the first time no one's going to have to clean up your mistakes later, making everyone's life easier.

Don't Pester People
It's one thing to ask questions, but it's another to be hovering or get annoying. If you have a question, but the person that you need to ask if clearly busy patiently wait or come check back with them later on. Try to write up all the questions that you have about your assignment on a sticky note so that you're not constantly running back and forth to your supervisor's desk. Do talk to everyone

Your internship is an awesome time to make connections with people in the industry you're trying to get into. Start off by getting to know everyone in the office and introduce yourself. On my first day I shied away from shaking hands and introducing myself to people. Needless to say, I was kicking myself after.

It might seem intimidating, but most people are friendly and nice once you get to know them. Don't be afraid to go right up to someone and introduce yourself as the new intern. If you're nervous about what to talk about, ask them about their job or try to schedule a time to have lunch with them. Trust me, that leaves a lasting impression.

Related: Take Charge Of Your Career

Don't get crazy competitive
With the way the job market is, almost any industry is competitive, but that doesn't mean you have to turn into a cut throat b**ch that steps on everyone to get what they want. Your bosses are going to look at how you interact with the other interns because it mimics how you would get along with co-workers in the future.

Don't go down this road and constantly try to outshine the other intern-you'll look desperate. Get to know the interns and make friends. Teamwork makes the dream work and you will not breeze through your internship without working with someone else. A little friendly competition is ok because it keeps you on your toes, but don't get a reputation for not knowing how to play nice.

Do dress for the job you want
I love getting all dressed up in the morning for my internship. I get a boost of confidence when I have a fly outfit that makes me look stylish yet professional. You should dress the way the majority of people do in the office, or like the person who has the job you eventually want. A polished look is super important in any industry. Plus, it feels super great when you get compliments on your outfit! Who doesn't love that?

Don't look too casual or overdressed
On my first day I came in way too dressed up and stuck out like a sore thumb with a blazer and pencil skirt that made me look frigid and unapproachable. I was so embarrassed because everyone looked much more comfortable and put together than I did! Definitely get a feel for how the office dresses during your interview, if you can.

Depending on where you intern, the outfit that I wore could have been appropriate but it just wasn't a good fit for the creative environment of our office. Also avoid wearing sweats or flip flops. Even if you see someone wear them once in a while, they really have no place no place in the workplace. The key is to dress in your own style and look comfortable in it. If you can't walk in 6-inch heels, go for chic flats. Nothing is more distracting than someone who looks really uptight in their outfit.

Related: 6 Ways To Stay Fit When You Work At An Office

Do follow directions
If there is anything that you should take away from this, it's that following directions is critical to being a successful intern! I can't stress this enough because when you follow directions it shows your supervisors that you're really listening to them and that they can count on you.

I am super forgetful, so I carry a notepad and pen around everywhere. That way, when I am assigned a task, I can jot notes down quickly because I will not remember everything later on. It's ok to not memorize everything, it's not ok to be unprepared and not follow instructions.

Don't take more than you can handle
You should always try to do more than you're asked and avoid doing the bare minimum, but don't ever bite off more than you can chew. As much as you want to impress your bosses don't burn yourself out or get so overwhelmed that you'll mess up. If you are given too much work, speak up and say something because your supervisor might not realize that things are moving too fast for you.

Related: What To Do When You're Burnt Out At Work


Kindly say, "I may not be able to get to it today, but I will definitely handle it first thing tomorrow. Is that OK?" Don't forget to take your lunch break too! As busy as things get, some food in your system or fresh air can do wonders for your productivity.

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