How to Get It In at Your Summer Internship
Today's guest post is from Wendy Wecksell, who is Programming Operations Coordinator at the Tribeca Film Festival. No stranger to fast-paced work environments, she offers some sage tips for this year's summer interns.
15 Minute Rule: As a rule of thumb when you’re starting an internship is to always good to show up 15 minutes before the decided start time. The truth of the matter is that you will still show up 45 minutes after everyone else in the office arrives so everyone will witness your eagerness and punctuality. It’s amazing how many people show up tardy for internships. It simply reflects badly and although most offices say they don’t care, it’s not entirely true. If you consistently show up early, you’ll serve as a great model for others.
Be Nice: This may sound silly, but being nice is probably the most important thing you can do as an intern. First of all, no one wants to work for or with someone who has a bad attitude. It brings down the whole morale of the office and makes executing tasks challenging. Secondly, in entertainment everyone knows everyone so you need to be extra careful always about how you conduct yourself publicly. You are an Ambassador for you—remember that.
Facebook is Fun, but NOT for the Work Place: Facebook is an amazing social networking tool that has makes connecting with others as easy as clicking on a mouse, but it’s not for the work place. There are certain marketing situations, etc., where you will probably be asked to search Facebook, but other than that, I would avoid searching Facebook at the work place or any other non-work related activity. It makes it look like you’re bored and uninterested in the task at hand. Whether or not this is case, don’t do it. Also steer clear of Perez Hilton and any other obvious non-work sites. Remember, you are given an AMAZING opportunity so take advantage of every second.
People LOVE to talk, so ASK QUESTIONS: Unless it’s super busy and you’re supervisor obviously doesn’t have the time to talk to you, I would ask as many questions about “the business” as possible. The more curious you are, the more you will learn, and people LOVE to hear themselves talk, so they will love to answer. Anyone you are asking has more experience than you so they have many lessons under their belt that they can teach.
Photocopying is are Gateway Responsibility? Yes, as an intern, you will probably be asked to some and more of the following: get coffee, grab lunch for executives, organize folders, scan archived items, staple scripts, and the intern classic—photocopy. It can’t be stressed enough that no activity is too small to be done well. Once you execute photocopies well consistently, you are bound to receive larger responsibilities. It’s a process and even executives have to photocopy once in a while.
Take Meetings: When you’re internship winds down, it is imperative that you meet with your supervisor about next steps. For the best results, meet with them while you are working with them because then you are on your radar. Please leave the meeting with at least 3 recommended people that your supervisor says he/she will reach out to on your behalf. You can never meet enough people.
There is no “NO”: The word “No” should be erased from your vocabulary. It is unproductive and in fact, there is almost always an answer--you just have to find it. However, if the answer is a real “No,” you must ALWAYS back up your answer with a list of possible solutions. An easy example to demonstrate this point is if your boss wants you to book them a room in LA at the Beverly Hills Hotel and they’re fully booked that night, make sure to research other hotels in the area that are of a similar caliber, which have available rooms. Then you can say, “The Beverly Hills Hotel is booked, but I can get you a room at The Beverly Hilton, The Beverly Wilshire, or The Peninsula on that night.” This shows initiative, competence, and solution oriented thinking. If you can master all three of those skills, you’re golden.
Ask for More Work: Sometimes people will feel bad giving you more work especially if they’re not paying you, but if you ask for it, you will learn more and be more appreciated. Everyone is cutting back in these economic times so everyone is doing multiple jobs and wearing multiple hats—extra help will probably always be needed.
You are Just as Important as Anyone Else: You bring youth, which is an asset. With youth comes ingenuity, creative thinking, and an inherent understanding of the zeitgeist. These are all valuable tools and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Freelancing is great if you’re a Freelancer: You are very smart and capable, but you are working for a company, where there are certain laws and protocols in place that you will have to follow. Always ask your supervisor about things before you do anything on your own. In the end, it’s their company so it’s important to keep them in the loop about all of your activities. There are so many things that get swept under the rug or problems arise because interns with good intentions try to take a lead on something and end up crossing a line. Be careful.
Contacts are Currency: People value their cultivated work and personal contacts highly so they should be treated with the utmost respect. This should go without saying, but if you have access to any sensitive contact information, it stays with company. It should not be sent to anyone, posted on the web, brought home, downloaded, etc. This will be a sure-fire way to burn a bridge between you and any future film opportunity.
Be Positive: This goes hand in hand with being nice. It’s integral to any work environment to have positive people around so be one of those people! The more positive you are, the better your experience will be.
Say Thank-You: You should voice your opinion on your appreciation for the job if the time is right. People can read through disingenuous behavior, but earnestness is always welcome.
“I Don’t Know” is Not a Complete Response: If you don’t know something, say “I don’t know, but I will find out.” This way you are showing initiative and being solutions oriented.
Less is More (Phone): As an intern, a huge part of your responsibility will be answering the phone. Believe it or not, having savvy phone rapport is a necessary skill that can takes time to achieve. However, here are some simple tips on mastering the art of talking on the phone.
When you pick up: A classic way to answer the phone is to say whatever company you work for and you’re name or just the company. It will sound something like this “Tribeca, this is (insert your name)” or “Tribeca.”
Answering people: When someone asks for someone and says, “Is Adam there?” Keep in simple and say “Please hold.” If they aren’t there, please say “He’s (she’s) unavailable at the moment, what is the best number to reach you?” or “He’s (she’s) unavailable at the moment, can I take a message?”
There is NO reason to give back-story to people on the phone. It is none of their business and to be honest, they don’t care and it makes things more complicated in the long run. For example, if your supervisor is at a personal appointment (ie-picking their kid from school), the person on the phone doesn’t need to know. It just leads to more questions that lead to nowhere.
Saying Good-bye: Be sure to say thank-you and good-bye. Please and thank-you are mandatory for good phone etiquette. Remember, being nice is the number one rule.
Less is More (E-mails): When writing e-mails, it’s important to write enough so that you’re friendly, but it’s important to not write e-mails that are too long. Most people read their e-mails on their blackberry so when an e-mail is too long, it can be distracting and hard to process for the receiver.
HAVE FUN!!! When all is said and done, please make sure you HAVE FUN! This is an incredible opportunity and you always learn the most when learning does feel like “work.”