The following advice represents employer feedback, best practices and a dose of common sense.
Don't get too comfortable
Think of your internship as a semester-long interview. Your employer is observing your actions and expecting your performance to remain consistent. Avoid sharing too much personal information; have a sense of humor but remain politically correct at all times; and remember, you are there to learn.
Keep proprietary information to yourself
As an intern, you serve as a representative of your own ethics, as well as the employer and the UB School of Management, both during and after hours. Refrain from sharing proprietary information with your fellow students, friends, colleagues or family members, and never discuss sensitive employer information in public. Once trust is broken, it is extremely difficult to repair and can result in unwanted professional and academic consequences. In addition, you may jeopardize our employer relationship causing a negative impact on your fellow students.
Dress the part
Professional attire communicates and commands a certain level of respect. As an intern, you want to be viewed seriously. Do not out-dress your co-workers or dress in a manner that is provocative or inappropriate for the work environment. In your first few days, dress to impress and make observations about the attire of your office; you can make adjustments from there as needed.
There is a difference between dressing for a night out and dressing for work. What may be in fashion is not always appropriate for the office environment. Be careful of falling into the trap of wearing too much perfume or cologne, hair products or jewelry. You want to be remembered for your outstanding work, not for your attire.
Your earbuds, iPhone and other devices are not part of professional attire. Leave them in the car or in your bag and allow yourself to focus only on your internship responsibilities. As a reminder, no texting while on the internship.
Build a network
Create working relationships with colleagues and watch for opportunities to collaborate. The employer may be interested in seeing how you are able to navigate interactions with others and how you fit within existing teams. You may end up creating networking contacts that last well after the internship is over.
Clarify your role - talk with your supervisor
This one falls into the common sense category, but at times may be difficult due to your supervisor's schedule. Therefore, at the beginning of your internship confirm with your supervisor a regular meeting schedule if he or she does not suggest it first. This will build in a regular opportunity for you to discuss progress, ask questions and share ideas.
Be sure you fully comprehend your project work and related tasks. Ask for help when you are confused or if there is an expectation beyond your capability.
If something is going wrong on the internship or you're having personal difficulties, talk to your supervisor immediately to identify next steps.
Feel free to contact us, as we are happy to work with you confidentially to create the best strategy for resolving issues. We believe in empowering you to speak with your supervisor directly as this is an important skill to develop. However, we can step in as needed.
Use real vocabulary
"Like, um, yup, yo, sorta, dude, bail, fly, hey, ya know, whatnot, basically" and other casual habits of speech are not acceptable on the internship. There is a difference between speaking to your friends and speaking with an employer. How you speak not only reflects on your professionalism but also on your intelligence.
Never use profane language on the internship site, during lunch with colleagues or fellow interns, or with clients. There is no place for profanity during the internship or any associated activities. You never know who may be listening or whom you may offend. The risk is not worth the price you may pay as a consequence.
Treat email professionally
Each email you send is an example of your writtten communication skills. Email is unlike texting. Gain a competitive edge by writing in complete sentences with proper punctuation and spelling. Do not abbreviate or add emoticons.
Include a professional signature at the bottom of your outgoing emails (name, address, telephone number).
Email is not the best medium to convey serious or timely information unless absolutely necessary. In that case, combine email with a telephone call or in-person conversation.
Trivial content, political or religious commentary, offensive jokes, questionable images, and video have no place in a professional work environment.
Email is a lasting documentation of your thoughts; therefore never express negative emotions or confrontational opinions through email. Always assume someone is saving your emails or even forwarding them to key individuals who could jeopardize your career aspirations.
Say thank you to everyone who impacted your internship experience.
Consider a thank you card or written expression of gratitude toward your supervisor in particular.
Trade contact information with any individuals with whom you wish to stay connected.
Request a wrap-up meeting
Some companies hold exit interviews, but not all. Be prepared to discuss what you have learned and to provide a thorough status update of the internship project if ongoing.
Respectfully request your supervisor serve as a professional reference for you going forward.
Express your interest in working for the employer full-time if appropriate and only if you mean it.