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A Teen's Guide to a Successful Internship

Updated on December 3, 2012
Working hard like a diamond
Working hard like a diamond

Diamonds in the Rough

I love the saying "Diamonds in the Rough". As a teenager and a former intern transformed employee, I really see what the true meaning of this phrase is. It's hard being a diamond. Like diamonds, you may feel the "pressure and heat" involved with the job. But, these tips will help make the job seem a lot less daunting.

Resume (Before the Big Interview)

Before I even went on a job search, I made sure my resume was impressive. Unlike most teens, my resume was kind of complicated. In ninth and tenth grade, I received a lot of awards and leadership experience. Not to mention, honor roll and other things I like to call "glitter" was sprinkled in the resume. However, the key to a good resume, especially as a teen is simplicity. The old saying; all that glitters is not gold? Well, it's kind of true, some people may care that you were a part of your high school's anime club, others may push your resume aside. Using good judgement and an adult mentor (parent or a literal mentor) will help clear the glitter.

When it comes to writing the actual resume in a world where txt language and IMing is convenient. But, it's good to follow some of the old school grammar rules you ignored while texting in English class (happens to the best of us). Using templates is a good start. My favorite template is found on Microsoft Office Word 2010. There's tons of CVs, Resumes, and one for high school students (use that one!). I know that Google and Monster, the job's website, will vomit up tons of results for the perfect resume. Other Hubpages will probably have just as much advice as well.

However, the resume is only the pressure you need to become that symbolic diamond. Now, there's the entire fire under your butt part that's needed.

Don't have to be this stuffy but it is a good example of a well-dressed intern.
Don't have to be this stuffy but it is a good example of a well-dressed intern.

Dress for Success (duh!)

After hunkering down and polishing that resume, with or without glitter, a future intern must be tidy and neat, not a lump of coal. I hate to say it but even the coolest office building Human Resource Officer prefers suits/skirts/ties over jeans/studded belts/I<3Ta-Ta's wristbands. I'm not saying throw your own personal style out the window. But, if you're applying for a stuffy office gig or a simple internship say at an insurance firm, it may be a good idea to dress clean and sharp.

Here are some of my favorite Tips for Guys and Girls:

  • Skirts (or Trousers) for Girls/Trousers for Guys:

Avoid mini-skirts, or psycho/shimmery designs. A simple black A-line, straight, not too tight skirt does the job. A skirt suit, may be your best best. However, avoid preachy or church-y styles, grandma would likely pick out for you. You can be stylish without looking out dates or frumpy.

Dudes should avoid jeans. Sagging jeans, skinny jeans, sliced and diced jeans, if you're interning in an office environment check out your father's closet or the Big and Tall catalogs for simple trousers, black, gray, brown, whatever. If you must Khakis won't kill your employer and they may be a lot less stuffy. Please, use a belt, women, employers, and your boxers will thank you.

  • Girls wear Tops/Guys wear Button-down

More fashion soul reaping to go. Girls should try wearing tops that look professional and preferably masculine. I'm not saying a tank top (wife-beater) or a black long-sleeve funeral blouse. But, something simple, not flashy, white preferably, good color, good vibes. If it is colorful, place a plain colored jacket on top. This is a good idea if the top is form fitting. Girls in form fitting outfits should try to make the outfit look more masculine. You want your future employees to see you as a gem not a... well potential sexual harassment lawsuit against them.

Guys, grow some..., buttons. Yes, a button down, long sleeved, white shirt, is stuffy, hot, and lame. Wear it! It doesn't have to be white, or long sleeved. But look professional. If you want, wear a jacket or vest over it. Maybe both would be too much unless you're applying to be a Harvard tutor or something. Make sure buttons are in the right holes, shirt is clean, and tucked into said trousers.

  • Shoes

Guys sneakers, bad. Dress shoes, good. Alligator/snake/zebra boots, awkward. Leather boots, only in Texas, (maybe?).

Ladies, ladies, ladies. I love heels, I love showing off my toes, I also love getting paid at my job. Take some advice from someone who stands in front of a copier for almost two hours every day. Ballet flats, or shoes with short squat heels are cute. On an interview avoid the latest vampire-stake heel craze, especially if you're climbing stairs. In fact, be careful on elevators with the heels, wouldn't want to get suck, ouch! Don't go to work looking like a orthopedic reject either. Stay in style without looking dead or too sheik.

  • Girls Only

Dresses are nice when they are for business purposes. Remember to wear something to make you look masculine, preferably a boxy jacket over your curves will help your chances in the office. Plus you'll look more like an adult.

Whoo! Tough part over... well, not yet. There's the whole being found in a river of mud.

Be Prepared and the rest is a piece of cake
Be Prepared and the rest is a piece of cake

The Big Interview

These Tips helped me survive my big interview:

Breathe:

I took deep breaths on the elevator heading to the fifth floor. Fortunately, my employer was very nice. She smiled. I smiled. And then I put on my serious face. Need to Ace the Interview? Challenge Accepted!

Shaking Hands the Right Way:

I learned in an etiquette class that there's a wrong way to shake hands. Who would've known that. For teens, a hearty handshake, eye contact, and a firm one-two-break shake is like the standard. Also smile, when your employer smiles. Even if they seem like a real stiff, give them a polite grin and then return to serious face.

Watcha Say:

Depending on your dialect and who spoke to you the most as a child and young adult. Speaking clear and loud without being boistrous is key to being heard. Adults like to see teens who look and sound smart. The tone of your voice should be clear like singing to your favorite song (well). Talk to them the way you would talk to your principal, or the officer who gave you a warning about speeding through the stop sign. I hate to hear stories about girls my age who lost out on an easy interview because their voice was a whisper. At the same time, people are working all around you, no need to yell. Keep a flat talking voice, be adamant when talking about yourself, and I would suggest not begging, but sound appreciative. Talk to your future supervisor the way you would talk to your best friend's grandmother. Kind, clear, confident voice.

Stop Fidgeting!:

I love seeing people squirm, because I make myself sit still. I use hand motions in order to make my words sound more important. The gestures should help your conversation not hurt it. Sometimes, tapping your foot is audible, or knocking on wood. If you have a condition, warn your employer before hand. But if you can stop fidgeting do it. Pretend you're in the middle of your PSAT/SAT, don't look around the room, or tap your pencil loudly on the desk. Sit there, take the test, and get out of the room. That's an interview in a nutshell.

Actual Interview Questions:

Practice before the interview, some obvious questions include:

  • Do you have any experience? If not, what makes you a good intern?
  • Weaknesses and Strengths, please?
  • Have you ever...?
  • What are your skills?

Don't get psyched out. Think on your toes. You don't want to feel like the guy on the other side of a headshot. Don't flip a table or crawl into a shell. If you don't know the answer to a question, ask the adult to repeat it or simply state you do not know. Honesty is better than lying your way through creating an HTML coded web page for your company.

A good way to prepare for an interview is to Google common Interviewing questions. Also keep your answers positive, upbeat, but don't lie!

Be Grateful:

You're talking to someone with experience, a family to take care of, and they probably don't have all the time in the world. Thank Yous and Pleases go a long way. Honestly, remember your P&Qs, your employer will big time. Another handshake, and a smile and the Interview is over. It's up to your employer to give you the gig.


Funny Interview

Getting the Gig and Sticking to It

You're free from the mud. You got the job, now it's time to clean up your act and actually do your job. As an intern you have rights. Your H.R. will share what those rights are. Read the employee manual, make sure that you read any material that your employer provides. My first day of work I was given a gift basket filled with M&Ms, nutritional bars, a mug, a cool stress toy, and books. About seven of them. Read the books, skim them over again, highlight the actual words. You never know when the supervisor or employer will have a question about them. Yes, for a teen interning in a big office environment it will feel like school.

When it comes to sticking with that job. It's going to take some responsibility on your part. You're going to have to work. You copy the documents, send off the emails, edit the paperwork, and don't be ungrateful about not being used for a big assignment or given a less menial task. All tasks are tests. For the first three weeks of my internship I was given a copy and staple gig. I had ankle pain for weeks, but I stuck it out. After a month, I was given a special excel assignment from the Vice-President. She was so impressed by that assignment, I became her go-to girl.

You want your employer, and co-workers to come to you with their tough assignments. Become a trustworthy and hard worker. Put away the cell phone, the Facebook, the Skype, and Work It!

Ask (a Lot of) Questions

The title says it all. During, my internship I didn't ask enough questions. I did have slip-ups and wasn't confident about some of the marketing projects. So, finally, I asked a question, and I was encouraged to ask more. Don't let pride get in the way of completing an internship successfully, ask questions. Curiosity won't killed you. It already killed the cat!

Love it (or not)
Love it (or not)

(Pretend to) Love Your Job

Now it's time for the hard part. I've probably said that a dozen times. It's only as hard as you make it. Diamonds are hard. So this is hard too. There may be a point when the quiet atmosphere, the lack of peers of the same-age group conversation, and just boring tasks lead to the phrase: I hate this job. Don't say that, pesmissm brings misery. If you feel bored or you hate a certain task, ask for a change. If you're not allowed to change. Make the best of the time.

One thing I did was play the radio at my desk, since I love all music, except country, I played jazz when I did stressful assignments and dubstep or house music when I felt tired. Another habitual thing I did was take a potty break or a coffee/water break. Just one before lunch and one after lunch. At least get the blood flowing in your limbs again. Especially if you sit or stand in one place for a really long time.

Avoid hiding from work or completing certain tasks. The best thing to do is to pretend you love what you're doing. I started to pretend I love copying and after a week, every copy job seemed to go easier and a lot smoother. It's all about perspectives. Now. I'm not saying stay at your job for the rest of your life. If you really hate it, and it lasts longer than a couple of weeks. Then, maybe it is time to prepare a resignation.

But, pretend to love it and you'll love your job in the end. Like with a diamond. Being polished on a stone grinding wheel sucks. But, after a while, you'll start to glean and that's nice.

Tell Parents to Back Off

My mom called me every day at work. I thought it was nice, at first. And then, annoying because she would start to distract the operator with long winded conversations. That's not good for business. I finally had to go to her and say mom, don't call me anymore.

That shattered her. But, honestly after I explained the part about my manager getting annoyed by the mid-morning, late afternoon, early evening, calls that lasted two minutes or more, Mom got over it. So stand up to your parents. Besides, your lunch hour can be the special time, not during the work schedule that your parent can call.

After a while, she stopped calling. It made me feel more independent and my employer was a lot more willing to let me talk to her when it really was an emergency.

From Intern to Employee

Everyone loves you. Not only are you a girl's best friend. But, you're priceless, expensive, and worth the time and money. Yes, you're a diamond, you've made it through your internship and now the big question. Take the job or leave it?

If you love your job, the obvious answer is YES! (duh)

If you hate it, thank your employer for the internship, the opportunity to become an employee, and make sure to ask them nicely for a referal.

If your employer doesn't want you back. Take your advice and skills and move on to the next big thing in your life.

I worked really hard for my camp counselor job, and I thought I would be hired year round. Nope! Well, didn't bug me, I made a couple extra bucks over the summer and had skills for my next summer internship. The insurance company hired me full time, raised my pay, and kept me for a good year before I resigned, tearfully.

The point is, I resigned from a job where my co-workers cried on my last day. Everyone, including the H.R. Manager thanked me and the best part. The door was open and is still open for me to return when I'm finished with school and ready to come back.

Diamonds are Forever
Diamonds are Forever

Advantages and Disadvantages to Working while in School

Diamonds might be forever but working while attending school probably won't be. Here's the D & A about working while in high school.

Advantage:

  • Full employment means money for school supplies, hanging out with friends, and of course shopping.
  • You look like a professional when you tell your teachers you can't stay after school because you've got to head to the office and work on the expense report.
  • Going to work for a good chunk of your school career looks pretty nice on a resume.
  • Gives you an excuse not to do chores when you get home from work.
  • You can use your work experience after graduation. The problem with graduates is that a lack of work experience and all this education means a degree without a job.

Disadvantages:

  • Almost no time for yourself, with homework, projects, dances, friends, and the facts of life, there's no time to sit down, take a breather, and relax.
  • Hobbies become nuisances. I love writing and writing my novel actually led to me doing poorly at school because the only time I could write was, during sleeping and homework hours.
  • Sleep is non-existent.
  • Too much responsibility at work may lead to a slip of grades. This happened to me, worst mistake in my life, but I redeemed myself.
  • Lack of opportunities to do anything for the community or school. Before, working I was a Hospice volunteer and a busy student with tons of after-school tasks. After getting a job, I had no time for that stuff and became an invisible student.

Whether you decide to keep your job or get rid of it. The overall goal is that you have work experience, from an internship and that will follow you not until the end of summer but for life. And isn't that what's really important about being a diamond? Lasting forever?

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    • profile image

      Naina 4 years ago

      Only thing i could say is ... GREAT post.... Thanks alottttt :)

    • Dominique Smith profile image
      Author

      The Life Major 4 years ago from Florida

      Still editing this hub. Bare with me!