An Intern's Worst Fears, Conquered

By Gretchen Kernbach on April 29, 2016

In every work environment there is a “job food chain.” Usually, you find your supervisors at the top. Following them is whoever is in second command, typically an assistant manager. Yes, how original. Then the regular workers trail behind. For example, your salesmen, accountants, construction workers, waitresses, etc. And behind those you can find the office coffee machine, a favorite hammer, or the food truck guy out front.

Then, way at the bottom of the food chain, I give you: the interns.

In other words, when taking on your first internship, expect dirt to be more important than you. Now, this does not mean you are invisible; your superiors are watching. This just means that it is crucial you watch your every move … no pressure.

Interns’ worst fears can range from saying the wrong thing at a meeting to jamming the printer. But have no fear, it is possible to get through your internship without making a fool out of yourself. Just follow my guidelines and you might not get torn apart.

The first day

Do: walk in with confidence, be ready to learn, and have a smile on your face.

Don’t: walk in like a flimsy cheese stick with horrible posture.

Chances are your first day will be a mini crash course on everything you need to know regarding your position. Tackle each manual and mount of paperwork with certainty and a quick pace. No one likes a slow learner, especially if it is the new intern.

One-on-one meetings with your boss

Do: give him or her your full attention, nod to acknowledge your interest in the subject.

Don’t: check your phone during the meeting, stare out the window while he or she is talking, cry.

According to

“Even if you’ve heard from your coworkers that your supervisor is the nicest person in the world, the first one-on-one meeting can be a little scary … It’s important to go into these meetings with an open mind and enthusiasm. Whether the feedback your supervisor has is positive feedback or constructive criticism, make sure you have a can-do attitude. Your supervisor realizes you’re in the learning process, so don’t be so hard on yourself when they provide feedback on your areas for improvement.”

Fitting in

Do: act mature, be kind to everyone.

Don’t: make jokes every five minutes.

“What should I talk about with my coworkers?” Not about your ex, that is for sure. Keep things casual and clean; chances are your coworkers have about five to 10 years on you. Remember to always be genuine and polite as well. Asking questions is also allowed; however, after 10 you might want to calm the curiosity down.

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Microwaving the wrong food

Do: popcorn, bacon.

Don’t: fish, onions, Brussel sprouts, eggs.

What is worse than the office kitchen smelling like complete garbage? Being the one responsible for the garbage smell. The quickest way to become the most hated employee is to microwave the wrong kind of food.

The feeling of “I have no idea what I am doing”

Do: remain calm, ask for clarity.

Don’t: wing it, have a mental breakdown.

It happens to everyone, the sinking feeling of uncertainty because you do not know your right hand from your left. The most important thing to do is to remain composed. Even taking a five-minute break can clear your head and help you refocus. It never hurts to ask a coworker for help either. After all, the point of an internship is to learn.

Having too much work to handle

Do: take your time, prioritize.

Don’t: push it off until last minute, ask someone else to do it, pretend it never existed.

The purpose of an internship is to teach you how to do a certain job. So do not expect to be sitting around all day playing Farmville.

According to, “From making copies to finishing projects, you’ll have to be the master of your schedule and make sure you get everything completed on time. As you tackle your work, be sure to remove distractions, set goals, and ask for help when needed.”

Doing something wrong

Do: own up to it, learn from it.

Don’t: blame it on someone else, try to hide it, cry and quit.

We all mess up; it is a part of life. As an intern, it is basically your job to mess up (kidding). In other words, your boss does not expect you to be perfect. Instead of running away from your fault, handle it like an adult and own up to what you did, apologize, and offer to assist in fixing it. Nothing is more mature than taking accountability.

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So there you have it; a lot can happen as an intern. Your fears will be as easy to conquer as burning popcorn in a microwave (something else you should definitely avoid). Overall, your most important job will be conducting the morning coffee run. So don’t mess it up. How hard can it be?

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