By Jamé Jackson With Halloween right around the corner, Ed can’t think of anything scarier than some of the intern behavior he’s witnessed over the years. Yikes! He got his friends to spill the details, so you can avoid making the same mistakes on the job.
The Horror Story “I had an intern that showed up 45 minutes to an hour late everyday. When she was there, she was totally checked out—texting her boyfriend or browsing Instagram. She wasn’t ambitious and basically did everything rushed. The worst part was that she was a bad writer, so I ended up having to rewrite her copy every time.” -LaRa Adekola, associate social media manager at Allure
The Lesson It should be obvious, but when you come to work, you are there to work. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like your job or if you’re only there for a few months. The last thing you want is to be the burdensome intern that nobody would actually employ full-time because the caliber of your work is subpar. Develop a work ethic now—it’ll pay off later on, we promise.
The Horror Story “I had an intern who used to take lipsticks and foundations from the beauty closet because she thought the beauty director didn’t need them anymore. And sure enough, someone would then need that color or shade and it wasn’t available. It was not pretty.” -An anonymous Chicago-based beauty blogger
The Lesson Don’t touch anything in the closet unless given permission by your editor. You never know when someone is going to need any of those products, and regardless, they’re not yours! You do not want to become known as the intern with sticky fingers—that reputation will haunt you like Beetlejuice.
The Horror Story I hired an intern who seemed super eager and went as far as going through training—but then didn’t show up for her official first day.” -Tash Amadi, PR assistant at PR Consulting
The Lesson Yes, there will be times when emergencies pop up, and sometimes, you may have to excuse yourself from a project. When this happens, let your boss know quickly and professionally. The way you communicate with your colleagues can make a huge difference to your reputation, after all. If you have some lead time, you may even be able to help find a substitute or adjust your hours on the project. Ultimately, make sure you’re doing everything you can to avoid inconveniencing your boss and coworkers.
The Horror Story “I had an experience where someone begged me for an internship, only to tell me later that they also accepted another internship at at another magazine. I’m all about the hustle but to make matters worse, they could work only one day a week!” -Janell Hickman, beauty editor at BET.com
The Lesson If someone is giving you the opportunity to intern for them, you better not leave them high and dry. There’s nothing wrong with working two internships at the same time, but if you already have another gig lined up, you need to be upfront about that from the beginning. Remember, everyone knows everyone in this industry, so tread carefully.
The Horror Story “Once, I had an intern who literally had no boundaries. She’d come in everyday on the phone, cussing and saying obscene things loudly. On top of that, she’d invite herself to lunches and happy hours with the editors. It was hard for her to understand her role as the intern.” -An anonymous style and beauty editor
The Lesson It’s great if you feel comfortable around the people you work with, but there are certain behaviors that simply aren’t appropriate in an office, especially as an intern. And rather than spending all your time trying to buddy up to the editors, get to know your fellow interns. They’re the ones who you’ll likely end up working with again later on down the road.
The Horror Story “When I was an intern at a fashion publication, there was an intern who tried to make demands from our boss. She’d try to tell her when she was coming in, when she’d take her lunch, when she had to leave. One day she left the office at 3:30 to go to Starbucks in the middle of fashion week!” -An anonymous fashion editor
The Lesson Honey, leave those demands at the door now. Remember why you are there and never think you are too good, too high up, or too amazing to do anything asked of you. A piece of humble pie, perhaps?
Jamé Jackson is a freelance fashion and beauty journalist based in NYC. She’s the founder of Theblondemisfit.com, a lifestyle site geared toward women of color in the fashion industry. To follow her random antidotes, #Blackgirlmagic, and blonde endeavors, follow her on IG: @theblondemisfit.