How to Become the Next Extern Idol
Regardless whether you’re in your dream externship or something that isn’t living up to your expectations, it’s important to create a positive impression. You want to leave with people wanting you back, no matter how glad you are to leave! Potential employers will often ask for references (even if your previous experience is completely unrelated) so you want to be able to provide them with a list of contacts that you know will speak highly of your job performance.
You may not have celebrity judges but your employers are watching…
1) Volunteer for any work that needs doing, no matter how menial or uninteresting.
Whether it’s making copies, picking up mail or counting the number of toilets in your facility, be willing to do whatever is asked of you without complaint or grumbling. Simply saying “sure, I can do that” can make a big difference.
2) Drink the cool aide.
Fitting into to any working environment is in large part about figuring out and participating in the culture. Take part in social activities provided by your organization to show that you are a team player and enthusiastic about your work.
3) Go the extra mile.
It’s important to make the very best of whatever situation you’re in. If you don’t have enough to do, look around where you’re working and figure out who could use help; then offer it. You never know who is going to be grateful for your offer to run a spreadsheet, or make a powerpoint chart, or type a document, or summarize a set of articles, or run an experiment, etc. etc. etc. If your department isn’t really great, you might gently offer an idea (and volunteer to do it) that might be useful (being careful not to seem to presumptuous).
4) Put in the time.
Arrive early and stay late. Don’t create the impression that you’re checking your watch so that you can bolt out the door at 5 (or whenever the business day ends where you work).
5) Be professional.
This is important for demeanor as well as dress (if someone has to wonder whether what you’re wearing is a dress or a shirt being worn without pants, it’s definitely too short!/If you have to modify the way you bend over or sit down for fear of revealing parts of you that only a few people see, it’s definitely too low cut/short) Also, be cognizant of your on-line communications. Keep your work emails professional and if you’re a blogger, don’t trash talk your employer or any individuals at your organization of employment specifically–you never know who may read these things and it is possible to get fired over it!
6) Treat everyone pleasantly, regardless of status.
Focus less on becoming chummy with your fellow externs and more on being pleasant with everyone. This could be as simple as greeting people at the beginning and end of each day and remembering to smile. Also, be careful not to look like you’re only interested in making a good impression on folks at the top.