1. First One in the Gym, Last One Out
There’s a reason why TNT and ESPN sports personalities fawn over the work ethic of guys like Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade. Skill helps obviously, but often times the reason superstars are superstars is because of their ridiculous work ethic.
To be the best in any industry, hours clocked isn’t so much an obligation as a record made to be broken. I’m not saying don’t do anything else with your life and turn into an overworked Pete Gibbons, but have a little respect for the process. You’re at the bottom of the totem pole, and extra hours will help you learn the lay of the land. Not to mention, meeting your friends “straight from work” is a timeless classic. Ohhhh look, he’s wearing a suit!!! He must be $$$$$.
2. Brag About How Much Of A Big Deal You Are, But Be Careful
It is without a doubt that one of the most important components of having an internship is to brag to everyone else about how important you now are.
However, while it’s definitely really crucial to tell everyone how big of a deal it is that you’re living in the NYU dorms–but are never actually there because Credit Suisse is just killing me–make sure not to slip up in at-risk situations. At risk situations include talking with anyone who knows anything about your industry, and actually being at work.
3. It May Be Hard, But Listen To Other People
It’s a given that you’re brilliant. So brilliant you could probably fix every problem that the company has if you’re boss would just let you talk to him for more than 10 seconds.
As much as internships are a place for you to exhibit your endless skillset, they are also a place for you to learn. They are also places where, shockingly, other more experienced people can teach you stuff. There’s no doubt Obi Wan had the talent, but his odds off defeating Darth Maul if he wasn’t trained by Liam Neeson? It’s Liam Neeson, homes.
4. Home Runs Are Nice, But Small-Ball Also Gets The Job Done
It’s easy to get there at the beginning of the day–especially if there’s some big assignment you’re on–and try to knock it all out in the spirit of those coding marathons Justin Timberlake makes everyone do in the Social Network.
If you’re able to work like that then sick brah, but often times going for the long-ball could result in some disastrous whiffs.
It’s an internship. People aren’t expecting you to walk into the office and double profits by next quarter. Honestly, most of the time no one in the office is even thinking about what work you’re doing. So when you do work, make sure you’re doing the assignment the right way. If you have to break it down into more manageable tasks over a longer period of time, so be it. Having to correct mistakes will not only cause you embarrassment, but it’ll also waste your and everyone else’s precious time.
5. Think Like The Enemy
The enemy, of course, is your boss. But all joking aside, put yourself in his $400 leather shoes for a moment. If you had interns, what would you want out of them? What would you want them to gain from the experience?
Obviously don’t take this too far, because then you’ll probably be spending your days playing waiter, busboy, and…well you could have your own fantasies I guess.
6. Hone Your Work Flirt
Fresh from the (now contaminated) shores of beach week or the darkest depths of your grimy college bar, it may take you to some time realize that real people flirting doesn’t consist of downing a handle of Burnetts, navigating dance-floor sweat in search of your text buddy, and sloppily sucking face with Avicii blaring in the background. Amazingly, professional relationships require flirting tactics such as asking civil, yet slightly leading questions.
Because people in the real world treat the weekend like it's some sacred holy land that you’ll be unbelievably lucky to ever experience more than once, it’s always a good strategy to base your work flirt questions around the weekend. Maybe start with a innocent-enough “how was your weekend?,” progress to a simmering “doing anything exciting this weekend?,” and when you’re finally ready to go in for the kill, hit ‘em with the trusty “I’m going to…you should come.”**
**In written form, this sounds unbelievably creepy. Because the work creep is one of the worst types of creeps (probably only second to the sports coach/teacher creep), avoid being him at all costs.
7. Don’t Overdo the Social Media
Over the past month or so, quite a few of my so-called “friends” have decided to blow my Facebook newsfeed up with Instagram pictures of how nice the sunrise looks in their new apartment that they’re living in for their internship. Obviously it’s huge to let the world know that you’re up early and are thus more productive than them, but the truth is that zero people in the world actually give a sh*t.
Just know that if you get to the level of tweeting out pictures of what you’re eating for your lunch break, people will be beyond embarrassed to be associated with you.
8. Know The Playing Field
Meaning, observe the social norms and tendencies of the work environment and act accordingly. In certain environments, this may mean to shine your shoes everyday, shave twice a day, and avoid hanging nose hairs at all costs. In other places it may mean not to act so uptight, or to know when it’s appropriate to bring up last week’s episode of “Mad Men.” Obviously you should “be yourself” and all that good sh*t, but if yourself means showing up to a law firm shirtless and decked with recently acquired face tattoos–well actually then you’re just a legend.
9. Ask Questions, But Only Like 5
Work-related q’s are obviously always good to throw in (and often necessary), but it never hurts to throw in a personal interest question. If your boss has a poster of Soulja Boy in his office, ask why he has a poster of Soulja Boy in his office. My hope in this particular situation is that the boss is Soulja boys manager, or that he lost a bet where the other guy would’ve had to put a Ja Rule poster in his office had he lost, but one can only hope.
That said, don’t get to the point where you’re actively prohibiting others from getting their jobs done. It’s not cool, and it helps nothing.
10. Be A Joe McEwing
Back when I still believed that the Mets were actually a legitimate franchise, they had this guy on their team named Joe McEwing. While he wasn’t exactly the strongest or most skilled dude out there, he always seemed to be making something happen. He was scrappy, he was a fan-favorite, and it was easy to tell that he truly enjoyed the game he was playing. Sure he was only a utility guy, but he sure never viewed his place role the team as “only the utility guy.”
For those of you current and future interns, the lesson of Joe McEwing us teaches that if you own your role, if you take pride in what you bring to the table each and every day, then you’ll more than do your part to help out the team while also shining in the process.