Intern Advice: the four signs your joking around might cost your internship

If you want to get ahead as an intern, it’s important that you really impress your boss during your internship.  One of the top complaints from hiring managers and team leaders that we come across is for new employees who do not take their role seriously. There is a line between settling into some friendly office chat, and talking a co-worker’s ear off – and that line should read DO NOT CROSS. 

Some stats posted in The Huffington Post on the matter, reported that “between digital and human factors, there’s typically only three minutes of consistent focus before an employee gets interrupted (or self-interrupts).” After that interruption occurs, it is estimated that it takes on average another 23 minutes before the employee gets back to task.

On average, we get about 56 interruptions per day as an employee. 80% of those interruptions are predicted to be “trivial.” 

In short it is a massive issue for companies and you do not want to be consider a potential waster.  It puts your chances of getting a permanent job at real risk and in some cases it could even bring your internship or placement to an end. 

Here are 4 top tell-tale signs that you might be making a horse out of yourself:

stop horsing around 1. The only sound in the office is your banter

Oh wait! CAN YOU HEAR THAT? No? Just the sound of your own voice? This is a pretty good indicator that you may be interrupting everyone from their work. If you take a look around the office and all heads are down, time to trail off from your tale and get back to your to-do list. Save the stories for the lunch break or after work beers. 

2. You are seen doing non-work related stuff

In the age of the open plan office, there are few places to hide in unproductive moments. You may not notice it but people pay attention to what you have on your screen. OH YES SON… I’m talking to you. I can see the “Barack Obama Singing Hotline Bling” playing for the third time on your screen.

There is a massive difference between the people who get work done and those that don’t.  If you have office downtime, try to avoid reverting to the Facebook news feed. Offer to help your team get more done or simply try and solve a problem you know that the team has.  There is a huge difference between interns who use initiative and those who are only working when they are closely supervised. 

3. You are known for your personality not your work 

In every office there are a group of fun and funny team members who love to play pranks and engage in good natured conversation. It is great to be in this group but the defining quality that you want to resonate is your stellar work.  It is extremely important to be a good cultural fit, but if your work is not up to standard, you may win your team members hearts but you may well not get a permanent job after your internship. Consider working hard over laughing hard as the best way to ensure you are valued. 

4.  Someone has asked to get back to work

The scene is set.  You are regaling your colleagues about your epic drunken adventures from the night before… 20 mins later as you are describing your mate’s crazy fist-fight with the local kebab van man someone finally comes over and asks you to go back to work.  You should try and never be asked if you are working.  It is simple advice but so many entry-level workers fall into the trap or mistaking an office for the library at uni. 

So what should you do…

Part of the learning process as an intern is to prove yourself as a future asset to a company. The only impression you want to leave with your boss is about how great your work is.  You want your team to rely and trust in your work as well as loving the laughs you bring to the team.  If you are ever in doubt of which one is more important then always go for the former.  Leave the jokes for the pub and work like a demon whilst you are in the office.  This advice is particularly crucial when you are intern. 

Now keep this in mind and get back to work!

With Love From,

Intern Loving Bosses Everywhere

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