by Cristina Nogueras, SU ’12
This summer I had the opportunity to be part of the Grow @ Grey internship program offered by Grey Group Puerto Rico. I was officially a public relations intern, but was also assigned tasks from other departments. Although I did learn a lot of technical skills in my internship, I want to share with you some practical things that can really apply to any field.
Always be prepared. Of all the things I learned during the 12 years I was a Girl Scout, that motto has turned out to be more relevant and useful than I thought.
I could not be present the first day of my internship this summer because I was sick, so my first day was really every other intern’s second day. I dressed very professionally and, in fact, seemed a bit overdressed. It turns out I made a good and professional first day impression. This brings me to the first thing I learned in my internship: It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
Be careful with what you say. I was walking in a parking lot with my supervisor and one of our clients, and as part of our light chat I commented that I did not like a specific car that was parked there. It turned out that the client’s spouse owned one. I was lucky that saying a car is ugly is not a big deal, but just imagine if I would have commented on something more serious, like politics or even a person. This does not mean that you can’t speak your ideas and opinions, but always be respectful and keep in mind that what you say might hit a nerve.
“There are no stupid questions.” I had heard this a thousand times, but I had not internalized it until this summer. It turns out it’s better to ask a “stupid” question than to work two hours on the wrong document just because you didn’t ask… because you thought it was a stupid question.
Punctuality is supposed to be a “must” with everything you do; keep it that way. Being a punctual person not only reflects your commitment, it also shows you’re reliable. Even if people working above you are not punctual and even if you can be 10 minutes late without a remark, stay punctual.
Don’t lie about what you can do. If your supervisors assign you a task that you don’t know how to do, don’t lie and say that you know how to do it. Instead, be honest but say that you will learn how to do it and ask questions. This will not only show your integrity, it will also demonstrate your dedication to what you do.
This advice is pertinent to any field you might be interested in entering. Technical skills are essential, but it’s the little details that tend to remain more present on the mind of your employer. The way you carry yourself professionally, at the end of the day, will set you apart from other interns.