TKA intern Wei Jing Saw explains how checking your attitude about internships prepares you for success
Being the only intern at my site who is here four days a week (the other five only come in once or twice a week at the most), I get to see most of the intern-supervisor interactions that occur and have, in the back of my mind, compiled a “what not to do at your internship/job” list, which of course, will prove very beneficial both in the short and long run.
Do whatever your supervisor tells you to do – Put yourself in their shoes. What the heck do you think their impression of you is if the “super-subordinate” (remember, there is nobody lower than you in the pecking order if you are an intern and very few if you’ve just started at an entry-level job) questions every task they are given? If supervisors had time, or could be bothered to do it themselves, they wouldn’t be hiring interns to call up companies to source some really obscure doodad. What you should do is to look at it as practice for interacting with people on a more formal level. Nobody is ever “comfortable” calling up strangers.
Along the same lines as the above, no task is above you – Again, remember you are an INTERN. Just suck it up and do what you’re told. The aim is to impress your supervisor because if there’s anyone who is going to vouch for you later on when you want a job at said company or when you are looking for references to another place, it’s going to be your supervisor. You are of no use to anyone if you cannot deal with these minor tasks.
Nobody else in the company cares about what you are doing – The big boss has too many other things to deal with. Interns are interns- you are lucky if you even get a “hi” from them. The big boss (most of the time) is not going to be the one hiring you in any case. So again, not the one you have to impress.
Be humble – Be nice to the other interns you work with. People notice if you are rude or nasty and “people” will talk. The worse experience I’ve had so far isn’t working with people who need more help in the ICT (that’s Information and Communications Tech) department, though I find this mind-numbingly frustrating; nor the ones who are quiet and just sit there and make me unsure if they understand what I’m teaching them; it’s working with the one who thinks they’re the boss of the boss. The one who never introduced him/herself and just sat their butt down, interrogated the rest of us lowly interns condescendingly, and then proceeded to turn down helping out with the task at hand. Do not be that person. Be nice, help everyone who needs help, and play nice with the other kids. In the real world, no man is an island and you are going to have to work in teams. If people like you, they will work with you and not against you.
I guess to sum that up, nobody (myself included) likes to do any of the above or interact with “difficult” people. The best you can do for yourself is to not be that “difficult” person and to just look at everything as practice for the future. I am not saying that being a pushover is ideal either, have backbone but be amenable. Everyone at Berklee practices their instruments for hours a day, this is practicing your professional attitude to not let it betray you- even when you are at your most frustrated point so that you can smile and move on in any situation.
In an internship or a first job, keep to the task at hand and observe what others are doing. No doubt you will, sooner or later, pick up on the nuances that will bring you more success than if you went in and bulldozed everyone.
What does Wei Jing’s supervisor at Ted Kurland Associates have to say about internships? Check out David Greenberg’s video interview and his latest blog post.
Wei Jing Saw is a final semester Music Business and Performance double major currently interning at Ted Kurland Associates in Allston, MA. She is also the personnel manager and plays flute and piccolo for the Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra – the largest ensemble at the college – that gives concerts in the Boston area every semester. She has been awarded various scholarships and recently received the Performance Division Dean’s Award for her work with the BCSO, helping in the development and consistent growth of the ensemble in the two years she has been manager. Wei Jing hopes to stay in Boston to get her career established, staying on the business side of the music industry after she graduates this coming May. Her resume and more information available on LinkedIn.