As summer is quickly approaching, our Integrated Marketing Manager Natalie DiPietro has some words of wisdom for the young professionals who are landing their first big internship.
Before landing my first paid job in radio, I did four unpaid internships. My parents thought I was crazy interning 9am-5pm then going to my paying job 6pm-10pm. Apparently, it paid off since I’ve been working in radio for thirty years. (Yes, I started as a toddler.)
I’ve had hundreds of interns over the years so I thought I’d offer a few tips:
- There is nothing more important in your life when you are doing your internship. Not your friends, not your boy/girlfriend, not your plans for Friday night. The people you meet during your internship can, and will, most likely will help you land your next internship or first paying job.
- Show up over dressed and see how it goes. Observe what others are wearing and ask your boss what’s appropriate. Flip flops are never appropriate. Unless you’re interning at a pool.
- If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, start one.
- Clean up your facebook page. You’re allowed to have fun and show it, but be smart.
- If you don’t have an appropriate email address, get one. firstname.lastname@example.org is not appropriate. Use a variation of your name.
- Same with your cell phone number. If you’re number is 414-get-wild, you better be using the numbers not letters unless you’re trying to pick someone up at a bar.
- Meet everyone. Most people working there worked somewhere else first and so they know a lot of people. Start networking. Shake hands (firmly, no floppy fish), make eye contact and say “Hi, I’m _______ from ______ (school)”. Giving your school could be a conversation starter. You could even take it a step further and make your own business cards with your cell phone number and LinkedIn address. A year down the road someone could call you that you met during this internship and give you a job lead because they saw what a hard working person you were.
- Ask everyone you meet how they got into the business; what they like most about their job; and what they like least about it. 1) People love to talk about themselves so they’ll be happy to tell you their story. 2) If what someone doesn’t like about their job, sounds like you wouldn’t like that either, then you might want to rethink things.
- Do not burn bridges. The entertainment industry is TINY. I’m sure other professions are as well. Someone you meet tomorrow could wind up interviewing you years down the road. Everyone knows everyone or knows someone who knows that person. I cannot stress this enough.
- Ask questions. You are interning and can’t possibly know everything. You are there to learn. If you don’t ask at least ten questions a day, you’re not serious about learning about that business. If there is a situation when it might not be appropriate to ask the question right then and there (perhaps in a meeting when a client is present and you’re supposed to just be observing), write it down and ask it later.
- Ask to spend time in multiple departments. I didn’t even know I wanted to be in radio let alone promotions until I interned and spent time in sales, programming, with on-air talent, in the news department, research, and promotions.
- Do not check your phone every five minutes. You seem completely uninterested when you do that.
- Lunch doesn’t always happen at noon. Sometimes it happens at 2pm and sometimes not at all. If you are in the middle of a project do not stop and ask to go to lunch. Wait until the project is complete and then ask “if you don’t need me for anything else right now, would it be ok if I grabbed lunch”.
- Work hard. Whatever they ask you to do, do it. With a smile. I can’t tell you how many lunch runs I made, t-shirts I’ve rolled, boxes I’ve lugged. Everyone has to pay their dues. Come in early if asked. Stay late, work weekends.
- Do not ask for stuff. Not tickets, not a CD, not a movie pass, not a coffee mug, not a t-shirt. Unless it’s offered to you.
- If you work with artists or celebrities do not EVER geek out or ask for an autograph or photo unless you are asked if you’d like one.
- Have fun. If you don’t leave your internship everyday dying to tell your best friend about how awesome your day was, then you’re heading toward a career you might not actually want. Your internship should inspire you. Excite you. And leave you wanting more. . Life is too short to not love your job.