Internship Etiquette

During your internship, you create an impression of your personal career readiness through your words, actions and contributions. 

Best Practices

Successful interns are...

  • Respectful and courteous to supervisors, co-workers and fellow interns
  • Excellent at verbal and written communication, and attentive (good listener)
  • Punctual, consistent, reliable and self-motivated
  • Inquisitive and honest about confusion, setbacks or mistakes
  • Confident yet open to both positive and constructive feedback
  • Flexible in attitude, accepting of different styles, and adaptable to change

Stay classy

  • Treat your internship like a semester-long interview. Avoid over-sharing of personal information and respect the boundaries of your colleagues. Stay neutral and walk away from politically-charged discussions - remember, you are there to learn.

Protect proprietary information

  • Your internship employer is counting on you to be ethical. Do not share proprietary information with your friends, colleagues or family, and never discuss sensitive employer information in public. Once trust is broken, it is extremely difficult to repair, many times resulting in negative consequences.

Build a network

  • Create consistent working relationships with colleagues and embrace opportunities to collaborate. The employer will take notice of your ability to navigate interactions with others and how you fit within existing teams.
  • Identify key individuals within the company and talk to your supervisor about setting up networking meetings. You may end up creating networking contacts that last well after the internship is over.

Effective Communication

Manage up

  • At the beginning of your internship, confirm with your supervisor a regular meeting schedule. This will build an 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 you complete your tasks early, ask your supervisor for the next assignment. 
  • If something is going wrong on the internship or you're having personal difficulties, talk to your supervisor immediately to identify next steps. 
  • Contact us so that we can 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 at your request.

Refine your verbal habits

  • "Like, um, yup, sortof, 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 reflects on your professionalism and your intelligence.
  • Never use profane language or derogatory terms on the internship, with colleagues or fellow interns, or with clients. 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.

Maximize email

  • Email is different from texting. Gain a competitive edge by writing your emails in complete sentences with proper punctuation and spelling. Do not abbreviate or add emoticons. Be strategic about your subject lines; for new email, as an intern always include your last name and a succinct subject.
  • Include a professional signature at the bottom of your outgoing emails (name, class level, campus or club leadership titles, address, telephone number).
  • 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.