Handy office hacks for interns

April 15, 2016
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There are a number of tricks and tips you’ll learn at an internship. While things obviously change from workplace to workplace, there are a number of one-use-fits-all pieces of advice that can come in handy. We all know the staple bits of wisdom -- like budget yourself enough room to buy new clothes, leave enough money to make sure you get to work on time each day, and so on -- but there are a number of things you’ll learn only after a few weeks at your new job. These are only some of them, but going in prepared never hurt anybody.

Get serious about networking

As an intern, you’re obviously going to be assessed on your performance and encouraged to improve both your broad and applied skills, and this is definitely where your priorities should lie. But there’s also a second side to professional workplaces, and that’s networking with other industry representatives and workers. Any internship veteran will be able to attest to the importance of this, but it’s a great thing to be aware of before getting your feet wet. You’re still in training right now, but a good first impression will do wonders in a few years’ time when you’ve got the contacts list to give you an advantage.

Don’t ignore the benefit of post-work meetings

You’re two weeks into your first project. It’s not the world’s biggest assignment, but at the same time it’s the one that will really show potential employers your skill profile, so the desire to impress is ever-present. You’ve got a lot of good information ready to go and you’re still finding the balance - but you know that you can line up a meeting with an old branch manager who’s around to chat after work. Honestly, wait around and take the coffee date. It can be overwhelming when you’re two weeks into an almost nonstop parade of new faces and tasks, but the information you can get this way will greatly assist you in required tasks one way or another.

The magic of “hello@[agency].com.au”

If you’re interning in any kind of white-collar environment, it’s likely you’re going to be dealing with more emails than you would be in your regular day-to-day life. If you’ve got a lot on your plate and you’re unsure about who to contact at a specific agency, try shooting something off to that group at the address “hello@...” - this is a staple used by a lot of different organisations for general inquiry communications. It’s not a 100 per cent guaranteed route of access - high profile institutions and companies may deliberately choose something more intimate - but it’s particularly uncommon and definitely worth a shot. Also worth a try: “team@...”.

Always do legwork ASAP

This, of course, is where all the intern stereotypes come true - the kind of place that’s going to give you valuable experience is a place with a solid reputation, but that likely means a lot of activity is going on each day. This means a hefty workload for you, and you’re quickly gonna learn how much truth is behind the sleep-deprived intern. It’s all worth it, but the stream inevitably gets to us all. The easiest thing is to do is get the data crunching, and emails and coffee orders done as soon as possible to try and stay one step ahead. This does mean that a lunch break might be missed - as well as precious evening hours - but in the end, the effort will bode well for you. 

Jonathon Davidson

Jonathon is studying journalism at Murdoch University in Perth.