Friday, February 20, 2015

10 Mistakes To Avoid Making During Your Internship

internship advice, 10 mistakes to avoid making during your internship, internships, intern's playbook,

From jocksniffing to dawdling and donkeyjacking (the art of doing nothing when you should be doing something), I have seen interns do it all. Too often, we see interns doing things they shouldn't be. It's not solely their fault. Many times young professionals come into an internship without a solid understanding what is and isn't acceptable behavior. While we don't want to dwell on negative experiences, it bears discussing.

Whether you're a first-time intern or a seasoned, internship pro like Suzi Mellano (click HERE to read Suzi's story), here are important things to consider during your internship.

  • Don't spend all your free time on your iPhone, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Cyberdust, Facebook, texting, etc.  You don't want to be that anti-social intern whose head is buried into your iPhone at every free moment. I see it. All. The. Time. Even if you're just observing someone work, if you're Snapchatting, you're missing awesome opportunities to learn valuable professional insight. 
  • Don't be afraid to make a mistake.  A mistake is a great learning opportunity. It will likely happen. In fact supervisors expect them. You're an intern! Don't gloss over it. Own up to your mistake. Ask what you can do to ensure it doesn't happen again and then make sure to follow that protocol.   
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions.  The only stupid question is the one you DON'T ask (Tweet this). If you are unsure about anything, ask. Anything is fair game: expectations, wardrobe, schedule, professional decorum, workplace eating rituals, recycling policy, etc.
  • Don't get offended by constructive criticism.  It will only make you better. Take it to heart and learn from it. The criticism you will get as an intern is much more empathetic than the ass-chewing you will get as an employee. Trust me. 
  • Don't forget that anyone you come across can be a potential reference.  As social media puts people one tweet away from just about anyone, remember that a future employer can easily contact someone you worked with at your internship. You might have thought that a person at your internship wasn't a hiring influencer or "important enough" to make an impact on your professional future. Wrong. It's a very small world.  Assume everyone knows everyone. Be respectful, courteous and professional at all times. 
  • Don't half-ass your effort.  So many of these internships are truly once in a lifetime opportunities. Take full advantage of it. You likely won't get the chance to do it again.
  • Don't be where you're not supposed to be.  If you're at a game or event using a station or workplace credential but are not there with a station representative or on "official business" you are not supposed to be there. The same applies if you're pretending to represent a company in any capacity. You don't get to go games and cheer with your pass. You don't want to have the discussion we had with an intern following a phone call from a pro team's PR person asking why our intern was "bee-bopping" in their locker room. 
Scenarios Specific To Sports Media
  • Don't jocksniff.  I have seen interns hand their phone numbers to professional athletes, hang out in the locker room when they should be in the TV truck and more. You are not there to flirt, get boyfriends/girlfriends or drinking buddies. Yes, interacting with interesting people is exciting but remember you are there to learn. You can be true to your personality and have fun but be a pro about it. Your reputation follows you. We still talk about the intern who gave her number to a well-known race car driver. This applies to any industry in which you will be working with celebrities or high-profile individuals.
  • Don't ask for autographs from Dirk Nowitzki or ask to get your picture taken with Adrian Beltre.  As media professionals we will get our passes revoked for doing so. So will you. I have seen interns do both. They are lucky that the team's PR reps didn't see them. 
  • Don't wear a Red Sox t-shirt into the Rangers clubhouse.  Or an Eagles t-shirt into the Cowboys locker room. Or a Sharks sweater into the Stars locker room. Or a Spurs hat to Mavs practice. You get the idea. 
Again, none of this means you can't have fun. On the contrary, your internship, particularly in sports media, can be the most rewarding, exciting and educational opportunity you will ever have. If you take advantage of it and do the right things, it will be an experience that will pay dividends for the rest of your life.

Still interested? Read these stories:
A Key To A Successful Media Career
If you want to work in the media business, internships are vital to your success. There's only so much you can learn in school. The university setting can't replicate the deadline pressure and sense of urgency media professionals experience every day.

Visit my internship page to learn all about getting the most out of your internship experience.

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There are thousands of cool sports media internships (like these) available. Each week I share a list of internships as well as internship advice with you in the The Intern's Playbook. It's full of insight that you don't learn in school but need to know.

When you sign up for The Intern's Playbook, you will also get your checklist, 5 Things You Need To Get Out Of Your Sports Media Internship.  Stop donkeyjacking. Start dominating. Start making the most out of your internship TODAY.

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