Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions. As an intern, you are there to learn as much as possible and the best way to do that is to ask questions. When in doubt, find out how to tackle a task or research a topic you’re unfamiliar with by going to the source (your supervisor). No matter how trivial, even the most ordinary inquiry can lead to an unexpected opportunity. Once I asked an editor about the newsworthiness of a story idea and as a result, I was able to write an article on it on the fly. Also, asking questions can open the door to dialogue with writers and editors, which is vital for building a relationship with everyone you work with in the office.
Learn to Budget Your Time. Some days I would be given a ton of time-consuming tasks like researching stories or transcribing interviews. I soon realized that it was important to finish them in a timely manner not only to move to the next set of tasks, but also to prove to my editor that I was reliable and could handle a full workload. Otherwise I would find myself stuck doing these tasks that would end up taking me longer to complete than I had originally anticipated, often preventing me from taking a decent break before the end of my work day.
Be Prepared. After the initial days of adjusting to the internship and the flow of the newsroom, I picked up a few little rituals to help myself stay on track. Number #1: Grab a cup of coffee in the morning. Not only did I get the chance to interact with staffers in the kitchen, but also that jolt of java would propel me through the day while I kept busy. Number #2: Keep a pen and notepad handy. Sometimes I would have to walk over to various staffers’ desks or offices and report for duty on an assignment. Once I made the mistake of forgetting my notepad and an editor had to dole out some scratch paper to me so I could take notes. He made it very clear what he thought of unprepared interns slacking off in the office. I was so embarrassed, but luckily I was able to win him over with some stellar research for a story on deadline. And Number #3: Take your break. Although this sounds simple enough, it’s actually easier said than done. Even if you end up eating your lunch at your desk, it’s crucial to take time to get up and leave your work behind for a short time-out. Just the act of exiting the building for a breather will do wonders for relieving stress. When things got too intense, a bit of sunshine outside would help clear my head.
OK, Edsters. What have you learned from your own experiences? Any parting words of wisdom?