Proper etiquette key to success in internships

Kaitlyn Sussko

As the school year comes to an end, we will go our separate ways and some of us will temporarily enter the corporate world via summer jobs and internships. Although we will put our knowledge from the classroom to good use, etiquette, dress and time management will be very different from normal school life. It is important to know what is acceptable at the office as the position could lead to a full-time job; however, you should still enjoy life outside of work, as it is summer vacation. As your first day approaches, you may have some anxiety, but being prepared for what may come can ease the pre-job jitters.

Many offices have dress codes that can be interpreted different ways. It is always better to be overdressed than underdressed – especially on your first day. The way you dress can affect how people perceive your ability and treat you. As an intern or new employee, it is important to dress to impress, even if others around you are not adhering to the code. Business professional usually implies a suit and tie for gentleman and suit sets for ladies. Business casual usually implies something just below a suit. Even on “casual” Friday, interns should never wear jeans. On the first day of the job, you should dress conservatively, and as time goes by, you will be better able to perceive what is accepted in the office. A good rule of thumb is if you are questioning it, don’t wear it.

The first day of a new job can be exciting as you are embarking on a new part of your life. The new experience can be a bit overwhelming, especially in today’s fast paced world. No matter what your job or internship is, it is important to make a good first impression. You should arrive approximately 15-20 minutes early and have the necessary paper work (i.e. tax forms, contracts, identification) completed beforehand. You should come prepared with a notepad and pen to take notes regarding your job details and directions. Be polite and try to get to know the people you will be working with. When you are introduced to someone, it helps to remember their name by repeating it back to them when responding to a greeting. It is your first day; nobody expects you to know everything, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Some businesses will take new employees and interns to lunch on their first day so everyone will be able to get to know them in a non-business setting.

When participating in business meals it is critical to demonstrate proper etiquette. There are a few common things everyone should know when dining with co-workers. First, place your napkin on your lap and start reviewing the menu. When choosing a meal, pick something that is easy to eat, does not require use of your fingers and won’t make you smell afterwards. A rack of ribs, French onion soup with stringy cheese and garlic bread are probably not good choices during corporate meals. When eating bread, pull off bite size pieces to eat as it is not polite to gnaw on the whole roll. Your bread plate is on the left and your glasses will be on the right. You can remember this by placing your index finger on your thumb forming a “b” for bread with your left hand and a “d” for drink on your right hand. Work from the outside in when using utensils and place them across your plate when finished. When getting up from the table make sure you place your napkin on your chair and not on the table. Be sure to keep appropriate conversation flowing and exit with a handshake and a thank you upon completion of the meal.

Most summer jobs and internships will provide sufficient compensation, and it’s important to save some of the money you work hard to earn. Many companies will offer direct deposit through which you can allot a percentage of your check to be put into your savings and a portion to be put in your checking account for daily use. You should figure out what you will typically spend each week and only put the necessary amount into your checking account. This is a good way to save because you have no choice but to put money away from each paycheck. Although we are still in college, it is never too early to inquire with the human resource department about retirement plans. There is no better time than now to start managing your money and saving for your future.

The money made from summer jobs can fund your summer fun, and it is important to allow time for relaxation and rejuvenation during the summer months in order to return to school refreshed and ready to take on another semester.

Be sure to always attend work when you are scheduled and request vacation from employers in advance. It is a summer job and most full-time employees take off during these months, so don’t expect your vacation requests to be granted. Keep in contact with school friends and try to get together on weekends and time off.

Take advantage of your weekends, and remember to get enough sleep during the week so you can perform well in your position. Internships and first time jobs can cause anxiety, but keep in mine, they hired you because they believe you have the necessary ability. Relax and be yourself!