C'est si bon!

Bonjour à tous! Je suis Vanessa, étudiante de 20 ans en France pour le moment. Je viens de Pékin, mais j'étudie à la fac à Chicago.

Hello! My name is Vanessa, a 20-year-old student in France for the moment. I come from Beijing, but I go to college in Chicago.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Internship 101: tips for newbies

me at an art exhibition opening at Guimet Museum

Bonjour à tous!

Even though I've only been an intern for six weeks myself, today I've come to pretend that I can offer advice to newbie interns. Okay just kidding, even though six weeks is not long, I've actually learned a thing or two that might prove helpful to you if you've never interned before.

So here we go:

1. Never, ever assume.
When your boss gives you a task with instructions that are a bit vague or bewildering, never, ever assume. You think you know what your boss is talking about, so you stay quiet and accept the task and go spend hours on it. And when you turn it in, all you get is, "That's not exactly what I had in mind, can you redo this and this and this?"

Too bad. But that's actually what can happen - and what did happen to me once or twice - when you don't ask questions when you don't completely understand something. Sure, sometimes vague instructions mean that your boss wants to see your creativity (or simply just because he/she hasn't thought of the task enough and just wanted you to do it instead), but it never hurts to ask a few constructive questions. If you have questions about the instructions themselves, ask on the spot. If you think they are too vague, think about how you would approach the task, and the rephrase your idea and ask if that's what your boss wants. Of course, no one wants to sound dumb and confused, so try saying things like "Is (insert your understanding of the instructions) what you had in mind?" or "Does something like (insert your own idea) seem good/doable to you?" That way, you will save a lot of time just by asking a few simple questions.

2. Double check, triple check, you get the idea.
Whether it's an email to a colleague in another department, to an important client, or it's something you wrote that needs to be put to print in mass, never hit send or print as soon as you finish. Take a sip of water, or a short break, and come back to this thing you created. Read it again. Read it aloud to yourself if it applies/if you have your own office. More often than not, you will catch several mistakes, even if you were being uber careful on the first go. 

Also, if you need to print something in mass, first printing a sample of it and showing it to your boss could be a smart idea. I once printed fifty copies of a booklet I designed, only to realize that there is a formatting error after I picked up the stack of paper from the printer. Oops. So don't do that. I've learned to always print one copy first, and either check it myself or show it to my boss, if it's something very important. My boss was actually impressed that I took the extra step of double and triple checking, so I'm sure yours will appreciate it, too.

3. Get to know your boss's work habits.
Actually, this is a bit hard to put to words. What I want to say is that you should know when your boss is busy, and have at least a vague idea of one thing he/she needs. The reason I say this is because when your boss is busy, he/she will more likely be a little absentminded when you ask for his/her permission for something. In this case, even after your boss has approved of your work, still check and double check. You may catch things your boss didn't, because he/she is simply too busy. Secondly, always have at least a vague idea of one thing your boss needs. And if this thing is something you can help with, do it and surprise your boss. Back to the booklet I designed. I knew my boss was taking me to a conference with some Korean businesses where these booklets will be distributed. So why not make a Korean version? I asked a trustworthy Korean friend of mine to do the translation, and printed out a dozen the following day. I can never forget the happy look on my boss's face when I handed them to her. Trust me, you will make your boss feel like you are indispensable. 

Okay, that's all I got for you all today. I know it's only three small tips, but all of them come from my personal experience (mistakes, fails, blah blah blah), and I've learned a lot and improved a lot by keeping to these three rules. 

Good luck with your internship, I hope you find these tips helpful.

Vanessa :]

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