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Listen Up, Interns!: 7 Bad Habits You Need to Break Now

Ahhh, internships. There’s so much to know. Ed’s given his fair share of advice to whippersnappers about how to succeed and leave a great impression over the years, but he’s surprised at how many interns keep committing some serious workplace faux-pas. Since Ed wants nothing more than for you to succeed in this biz, his friends are offering up their juiciest tips about the internship habits you need to break now.

Don’t check out early. “The magazine business can require long hours when we’re closing a magazine or stories have to move along in the production process. As an intern, it was really important that I showed my editors I was willing to put in the kind of work required to have an on-staff position, so if the clock read 6 P.M. but I hadn’t finished a transcription, I was there until it got done. If the editor I worked for left early, I didn’t take it as a green light to call it a day. Putting in the time is a big one, even if it sucks some nights.”
-Lauren Panariello, Assistant Editor at Cosmopolitan

Stop moving so fast. “I once had an intern who would get her work done quickly, but I often found mistakes when I checked it over. One time, I ended up just redoing her work on my own because I couldn’t rely on her to do it correctly. If she had slowed down and double-checked herself, I wouldn’t have minded if it took a little extra time for her to finish.”
-Chrisanne Grise, Editorial Assistant at Parents and Ed2010 Staffer

Don’t be shy. “If you have a question, ask it. Nothing bugs me more than when an intern is unsure about an assignment, but continues working on it anyway. I would much rather spend a few minutes answering questions than an hour rewriting or rebuilding a story.”
-April Rueb, Web Editor at GoodHousekeeping.com

Dress the part. “Don’t underestimate the importance of presentation. At previous internships, I’ve seen fellow interns show up looking like they just rolled out of bed. Take the extra time in the morning to look put-together. It shows your editors that you’re serious about your career and actually want to be there.”
-Bethany Cianciolo, Editorial Assistant at Ladies’ Home Journal

Be prepared! “Always carry a notebook with you wherever you go. You’ll be so grateful that you’ve written down your assignments, and it also makes you look more prepared. Mine is still glued to me! It’s my pet peeve when I’m explaining a task and an intern isn’t writing it down. It’s like the waiter at a restaurant not writing down your order—you’re worried they’ll get something wrong!”
-Alex Abel, Assistant Editor at Seventeen

Never turn down an assignment. “Ask for due dates on everything so you can prioritize your work. I once had an intern say she was too busy to help when our executive editor tried to assign her something, and I was so shocked that the intern turned down a chance to work one-on-one with her. Don’t be remembered that way.”
-TK Brady, Editorial Assistant at Fit Pregnancy and Natural Health and Ed2010 Staffer

Quit gossiping. “I understand that you might overhear editors gossiping about everything from office troubles to crazy life stories, but don’t chime in or use this as a go-ahead to gossip with them or your fellow interns. You are there to work and to learn, not indulge in juicy stories.”
-Samantha Mellone, Assistant Editor at Kiwi

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2 Responses to Listen Up, Interns!: 7 Bad Habits You Need to Break Now

  1. foodblogger August 3, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    To add to the list:

    - Don’t overpromise.
    Play it safe by making realistic predictions as to what you’ll be able to do during the internship. It can be easy to over-promise (to say you can commit to 20 hours a week, when really you can only realistically commit 8 hours / week), but don’t fall into this trap!

    - Ask for time off ahead of time
    I have had experiences with a few interns who will say, “By the way, I’ll be on vacation next week” without any prior notice, or “I need to take next Wednesday off to see a friend”. Even though you’re interning, it’s important to take your position seriously, and to give your internship boss plenty of notice when you are planning vacations.

  2. Akshera August 4, 2014 at 1:23 am #

    Thank you Ed ! This was a great list of things that interns should stop doing during their internship. I think another thing a lot of interns should avoid doing is being glued to their phones. It displays a very casual attitude to the people they are working with in an organization. Rather, that time can be spent networking with people from different departments of the organization. Here are some valuable tips on things you should definitely be doing during your internship: http://blog.bayt.com/2014/07/how-to-be-the-best-intern-ever/