5 Things Every Intern Needs to Know

  • Kristin van Ogtrop

It’s intern season again, which I know because the weather has turned warm and my commuter train is suddenly full of attractive people with no visible wrinkles, either on their faces or on their new intern clothes. I also know it’s intern season because we have a few interns here at Real Simple. We’re always very grateful for the help, not to mention the enthusiasm and guilelessness that a new crop of college students always brings.

Interns tend to be full of questions, most of them quite good. Of course, they don’t ask ALL the questions they want to, because some seem too stupid/personal/irrelevant. And so, herewith, answers to the five questions they would ask if they could, or if they were insane:

Q: Is work really this boring?

A: Yes, sometimes. That’s why they invented the Internet, and specifically Facebook, Buzzfeed, YouTube, Pinterest and other time-sucking websites you can visit while you’re pretending to fill out Excel spreadsheets on your desktop.

Q: Do I really need a college degree to do this?

A: In fact, you do not need a college degree to do much of the work you will do as a “grownup.” However, you do need “life wisdom,” “E.Q.” and, depending on your job, the ability to sit still for extended periods of time—all skills you tend to hone while you are also going to college.

Q: How bad is it to show up for work with a hangover?

A: It’s ok if you are hungover at work because, in all likelihood, no one will notice. Also, you’re 20, and when you’re 20, the drinking fun/hangover pain ratio is 3:1. By the time you have children and a mortgage, the drinking fun/hangover pain ratio is 2:789, which is, as they say, a major buzz kill.

Q: Why do many middle-aged people still use a Blackberry?

A: Because the Blackberry keyboard is so easy to use that a working mom can type on it without looking at the letters, thus freeing up valuable time to check the forecast on TV and make sure the kids head out the door wearing clean clothes and not some stained, wrinkled thing they pulled out of the bottom of the hamper.

Q: Is it really impossible to get a job after college graduation?

A: Not impossible, especially if you already have the wherewithal to get internship experience. When the time comes, just remember the following interview do’s and don’ts:

1) Do your homework: about the company and about the interviewer (see question #1, “that’s why they invented the Internet”).

2) Don’t chew gum.

3) Do come to the interview with questions, so if the interviewer says “Do you have any questions for me?” your answer will never be “No,” a.k.a. Interview Kiss of Death. If the interviewer answers all of your prepared questions, make one up on the spot. You can do it!

4) Do express enthusiasm for the work, even if it seems boring and not like something you need a college degree for.

5) Don’t complain: about school, about your parents, about internships, about anything. If you have to complain, do it in your head.

And finally:

Q: Are these people even grateful that I’m here?

A: Yes, every day! So to interns everywhere—and especially at Real Simple: THANK YOU.