There's a reason so many experienced professionals look back on their internships and cringe. (You know, besides the unpaid labor and endless boring tasks.) For most people, their internship was the time in their career when they knew the least about how to work in an office -- and therefore, made plenty of mistakes.
Alison Green of Ask a Manager has a great list of the 10 worst mistakes interns make, and how to avoid them. The whole thing is worth a read, but here are three that stood out.
1. Scoffing at those endless boring tasks. See the first paragraph for reference. Years later, we roll our eyes at all that fetching and carrying, but learning how to do things that aren't exhilarating is part of adapting to a work environment. After all, even the CEO has to sit through the occasional boring meeting.
2. Only hanging out with the other interns. When you're the new kid in town, it's nice to have other people around who don't know where the office supplies are kept or what the boss is talking about when she uses various corporate acronyms. Also, many interns are in college, or fresh out, and used to the classroom mentality, where you start working with a bunch of people and hang out with them until the semester ends. But as Green points out, spending time with more experienced coworkers gives you a chance to make connections and get references for future jobs.
3. Talking more than listening. It's almost a cliche at this point: The newbie intern who thinks he or she knows everything. Try to learn how and why things are done the way they are, before deciding that you can do it better. That way, you'll get more out of your internship than an appreciation of how tough it is to be the low man on the totem pole.
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