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Things interns should never say...

Jenna Johnson

This week I blogged about "the suck-up intern" as part of my "That Intern" series -- and received series e-mails and messages from people loving on that intern and hating on that intern.

The best e-mail was from a supervisor, who said he wants a suck-up intern "and so does everyone else."

What he doesn't want? Any intern who would ever utter one of these sentences:

"In college, nobody wakes up this early."

"Did I forget tell you in July I'm gone for a three-week family trip to Europe?"

"Sorry I'm late. I'm dehydrated and need Motrin... Big night last night!!"

"Where is a happy hour on Wednesday evening?"

"I love day baseball games."

"The weekend starts Thursday night!!"

"Is there food at the function tonight?"

"Is there an open bar?"

"Snappy casual."

"I don't own an iron."

"Why does the computer network block Facebook?"

(There are more! Click to keep reading after the jump.)

"When do I get to write policy?"

"I need something more intellectually challenging."

"What, a Blackberry? No iPhone?"

"Where is my office?"

And the kiss of death: "I work hard, and I party hard." This guarantees only a half truth

Things that interns say that are "music to my ears," the supervisor wrote:

"The office is a little dead at 6 a.m."

"No problem."

"Can I help in any way?"

"Excuse me, where can I find toner for the copier?"

"Well, okay."


"I can fix that."

"Let me help you with those boxes."


But before we make the suck-up intern look too good, I should mention that I also got an e-mail from Beverly T. Lorig, the longtime career services director at Washington and Lee University.

She told me that that every fall students return to campus and tell her about their internships. Her take on the suck-up intern:

The bottom line: nobody likes the suck-up! The suck-up intern might go undetected early in the summer, but wise supervisors are able to sniff "doesn't get along with others" intern in a matter of time.

Warning: it is a lonely life to be a suck-up . Few managers wants to hire the suck-up intern who often disregards the team in order to be "the favorite" intern.

What do you think?

Campus Overload is a daily must-read for all D.C. interns. So, make sure to bookmark You can also follow me on Twitter and fan Campus Overload on Facebook.

By Jenna Johnson  |  June 18, 2010; 11:50 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. Interns  | Tags: Internships, That Intern  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Twitter tales of intern woes, employer gripes
Next: That intern: The iPod intern


My advice to interns would be: Don't be condescending to the permanent support staff and never ask them to get you coffee.

Posted by: los22 | June 18, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Know your place in the office - you're an INTERN! You are not equals or peers with the permanent staffers! So don't argue with them about the industry or the office in which you intern and don't treat them like some friend you met at school. With respect to the interns at my workplace, I stop caring and giving projects to interns if they become too annoying, regardless of how smart they are.

Posted by: casey1234 | June 19, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Here are a couple of interesting points that i feel have been left out of the series...(and, by the way, i don't care much for capitalization... ha)
1. 'So, is it true that I really have to work for free for up to one year to even have the potential of getting a job here, as my parents aren't well connectec?
2. So, I'm doing this for academic credit, which casts aside the monetary issues... Am I really expected to be the primary coffee and copy person? I'm pretty sure that that's technically illegal....
3. So, I'm not from DC, and don't really know too much about the city... My DC university has a suicide issue directly lated to the high-tension/stress issue directly corresponding to this, I was wondering if perhaps the 'real' paid workers here might give me some help here and there, as opposed to condescending me o death and wishing i had never shown up to do their busywork...

i could go on, but as i didn't have the money to do a 'free internship' (most of which are, as it happens, technically illegal) i feel that perhaps i'm not the best source on this...

gw grad, 08

Posted by: celticsax | June 19, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

ps, apologies for the typo(s), japanese keyboards are 'interesting' sometimes..

Posted by: celticsax | June 19, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I agree with the celticsax poster's sentiments. It's fundamentally wrong to have an unpaid intern who's expected to perform like the lowest worker on the totem pole and *like* it. I mean, of course, they're going to want to take vacations! Since they're not being paid, why shouldn't they? And, if they're not being paid, why should they dress up?

Look, if you want an intern that you can boss around for the summer and make them get coffee for you lazy people, you should PAY them.

Posted by: rlalumiere | June 19, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

To the interns: Get real. You'll be there for a few months. Your primary task is to be someone who people are happy to have around. Here's how:

1. Don't get in anyone's way.

2. Eagerly help anyone with anything, as long as they're not a perv.

3. Ask questions, but try not to make them open-ended or stupid.

4. Don't give any opinions unless asked, and even if asked, don't tell anyone anything they don't want to hear.

5. Look in the mirror and practice a sincere smile while asking, "Is there anything I can do to help out?"

6. Arrive early and stay late. A vacation? Are you nuts?

7. No one cares about your personal crisis, whatever it is, so put a sock in it. Realize that if you leave the position, you won't be coming back.

If regard all of that as unfair, then don't get an internship to begin with. You're not being hired to be the CEO. You're at the bottom of the food chain, period.

Posted by: MagicDog1 | June 19, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

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