Your conduct during your internship says a lot more about you than you may think. Professionalism in the workplace is a valuable trait for any business, whether you’re working in a corporate office, a construction site, or a manufacturing site. Getting the job done is one thing, but maintaining appropriate formalities is a completely different feat you need to keep track of. During your internship, you will need to synthesise professional behaviour into your roles to impress and assure your supervisors and co-workers are aware of your merit. So how exactly can you practice this trait? How can you meet the expectations of your organisation by being viewed as a professional in any given internship work environment? This article will give you all the tips and tricks you’ll need to enhance your work behaviour during your internship.
The first rule is to be respectful towards others, in order to be seen as respectable, yourself. You might not agree with the opinions or actions of some of your co-workers, but you must do your best to remain respectful and engage in healthy and constructive conversations instead of airing out negative and personal thoughts. The last thing you’d want is to be perceived as immature and unprofessional, which may lead to other unfair assumptions being made about you – not good impressions you would want to make as an intern. Giving everyone time to speak while you listen attentively or going out of your way to do good deeds around the workplace will show your colleagues that you’re thoughtful and considerate of others, which are respectable traits to demonstrate whilst at your internship. Treating everyone equally and respecting the code of conduct in your company will also show an elevated sense of maturity.
Be punctual! Professionals don’t come into the office late and make excuses. You must take accountability in your punctuality and make it a priority to arrive on time for all meetings and projects. The same apply in etiquette for both employees and interns. There is no such thing as an unreliable professional! Showing up on time to work is the bare minimum of your supervisor’s expectations, and clocking in at the right time will prove to your colleagues that you value their time, especially if your punctuality affects them (e.g. meetings or discussions). Take it a step further and try starting work ahead of time by coming in a few minutes early. Sacrificing just a couple minutes of your morning to come in early (with lots of coffee) during your internship, will certainly impress your supervisors, and is definitely worth a sacrifice!
To act the part, you also must dress the part. Even as an intern! Whatever the dress attire requirements are for your workplace, it’s best to follow these expectations to maintain professionalism.
This means no flip flops at the construction site, and ripped jeans at the office. You’ll want to stay neat and clean with your outfits and don’t neglect to iron out any wrinkles and kinks before leaving the house. Have a look at how your co-workers dress to mirror the vibe if there is no dress code. Coming to work is not a fashion show (unless you literally work in a business that requires some glitz and glam), so save the tank tops and platform heels for a night out. Dressing the part effectively may even boost your confidence so you can elevate your professional attitude – even just as an intern. But if you’re ever in doubt, don’t be shy to ask your supervisor or co-workers at the beginning of or during your internship.
You’re a team player in any job. True professionals are considerate of others and will always lend a hand before people have to ask. We all face challenges at work so be empathetic and assist anyone who may be struggling. Being a professional isn’t just an ‘act’ when you walk through the doors of your workplace, it’s a state of mind which includes being caring, compassionate and selfless in every aspect of your life. Part of the benefits of being an intern is the fresh and exciting insights you will be able to impart on the organisation – whether this be knowledge from your studies or previous work experience. So don’t be afraid of sharing your time, knowledge and perspective with others, especially because you know you’d want people to help you when you need it most.
Work drama and gossip is a rabbit hole you don’t want to get trapped in. Talking down on your co-workers not only raises a lot of doubt surrounding your integrity and respectability, but also encourages unlikeable high school behaviour. You should save any scandalous news for outsiders and avoid being the person who spreads rumours at your internship. In a professional workplace, you should be uplifting towards your co-workers instead of stifling their performance ability by evoking anxiety with gossip.
Your workspace should be a reflection of you. Keeping a tidy desk or locker, for instance, will help you keep organised in your responsibilities and you’ll seem to be put together even if you aren’t. Take time every day to sort through your belongings and file all your documents so you don’t have to sift through a pile of items when you are in urgent need of it. Being conscious of your cleanliness will improve and complement your professionalism during your internship.
Workplace negativity can be very toxic and contagious. Having a positive attitude will rub off on everyone else and exponentially enhance your workplace culture. Being a positive intern will help you hone a professional energy and encourage you to work hard and influence others better. A positive outlook is extremely advantageous so don’t underestimate how much putting on a smile can do for you at your internship.
Non-productive habits such as regular complaining will drop the morale among employees and reduce job satisfaction- neither consequences will be of any benefit to you, so avoid unnecessary complaints and tension. A bad mood is most like a projection of something that happened outside of the office so leave the negative attitude at the door before you walk in. In these cases, separate your personal life from your work life and don’t take out your frustrations on supervisors, customers or co-workers who warranted none of it. If you’re not feeling your best due to complications at work which you can’t fix, consider taking a break if you aren’t feeling fulfilled.
Being a professional in the workplace takes more than just playing pretend. You’ve got to look, act and feel the part in every aspect of your life beyond the office. Honing in your skills and values like communication, initiative, respect and positivity will make a great impression on others during your internship and set an even better standard for your co-workers to mirror in their work life.