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Ed’s Intern Diaries: The Do’s and Don’ts of Faking It Till You Make It

Whether you’re interviewing at a company that seems out of reach or get an impossible assignment, intimidation is hard to avoid as a whippersnapper. But I’ve learned that with the right attitude, you can do a pretty solid job .

For my summer internship, I’ve been assigned the technology beat—which I know (or knew) nothing about. Two weeks later, I’m the website’s “most experienced tech intern,” according to my manager. And as that go-to tech intern, I’ll be attending a tech conference for my team. So, yeah, faking it works.

That said,  it’s important to walk the line between faking confidence and straight up lying. Here’s what I’ve learned about being honest with my boss, myself, and fearlessly diving into something new.

Do pump yourself up.  When you look good, you feel good. Before an interview, or a particularly challenging day, make sure you look and feel your best. Dress well, roll your shoulders back, and your confidence show. Just make sure you don’t use this logic to justify spending all of your prep time blowing out your hair. The look will only get you so far.

Do know yourself.  Before going into any interview, I research the company in relation to myself. I look at the job description, the previous work of the company or my interviewer, and my resume. Then, I look at what experiences I should highlight or what skills they may ask me about. For example, when interviewing for a company with a large staff, I made sure to talk about the teamwork skills I learned as a camp counselor. When interviewing for a position as a social media manager, I talked about my love for Instagram.

I don’t believe in lying on your resume or in an interview, but make sure you are aware of what your interviewer is looking for. Then see if you have some experience that shows you have what it takes.

Don’t ask questions that can be Googled. When you receive an assignment that you don’t understand, ask for clarification in that moment. This is the time that your boss has allotted to explain the task. He or she will be happier to give you more detail in the moment than when you work up the courage to ask a few hours later.

Luckily, Google exists. Since I’m new to New York City, I have no idea where many places are. And more than once, I’ve been asked to take on tasks at random locations. Instead of asking my boss for directions, I ask Siri. Most things can be figured out through common sense and the internet, so don’t waste your boss’s time. You’ll seem far more self sufficient and capable—because you are.

Don’t be afraid of failure. Being an intern is great because it’s a time to learn so many new things and figure out what works for you. I came in looking for an internship in fashion and ended up working on technology stories. That means writing about words I just learned, interviewing CEOs of companies I’ve never heard of, and scouring blogs I didn’t know existed.  But taking on these assignments has taught me so much about myself.

When faced with a challenge, you can’t help but learn what you’re capable of, what your strategies are, and what your voice is. And who knows? Maybe I’ve got a future in covering this industry.

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