When people think of me they usually think: outgoing, talkative, and personable.
It’s easy for them to sometimes also think: out there, loud, and nosy.
The truth is that each of us have great personality traits as well as ones that are considered not so great. Just like with first impressions, it is so important to put our best foot forward, especially in a professional setting!
This summer I have been working with my first on-site internship. Being so used to freelance writing on my own time, it has been a strange but awesome adjustment to have to commute and personally interact with my bosses. While I would like to believe it was my dazzling personality that landed me the job in the first place, there is no disputing that my professionalism and experience speaks for itself.
With this in mind I started my internship with utmost seriousness and what I perceived to be “professional.”
Here are 4 things I’ve learned about integrating my outgoing personality into a professional environment:
Don’t “Go-Get” on Your Boss’s Nerves
Along with being super on top of things, I pride myself on being a great multitasker. I love having lots do to all the time and accomplishing as many things as I can.
I am a go-getter.
A big adjustment I’ve made is balancing go-getting with taking my time and letting assignments come to me. Yes, it is great to want to go the extra mile and complete lots of work but bosses want to see that your efficiency comes with accuracy.
Keep in mind that it is just as much work for bosses to have an intern as it is to be an intern. They need to be able to constantly come up with tasks while making sure you are completing them correctly.
So take your time and ask for more to do when appropriate. But also let some of the work come to you.
Don’t Be Afraid to Share a New or Unpopular Opinion
There are certainly times where in the midst of all the office craziness details get overlooked or not-so-smart ideas pass through.
Part of being an intern is the learning experience – but this isn’t to say that employers can’t learn a thing or two from you too! Don’t let your need to please get in the way of speaking your mind! They hired you for a reason and they want to hear your unique voice and point of view.
Be Excited and Gracious – About EVERYTHING
We have all seen those movies where there is an intern who is not only chained to their pagers and beepers but forced to make coffee runs, pick up dry cleaning, and constantly run errands.
I would like to think that has changed in the past few years, and I am thankful that none of my internships has ever made me feel like I was significantly “less than.”
That being said, there are tasks that every intern, or every person in any position for that matter, has to do that just aren’t the most exciting. These are the opportunities that allow you to show your true colors!
In these cases, do the task differently, pitch an updated idea, or simply preform amazingly. Showing enthusiasm, being gracious, and having new ideas is what makes you an unforgettable asset to the team!
Don’t Sacrifice Who You Are for What Feels “Professional”
Like many people I have a name that naturally generates a nickname. Though my given name is Kathryn I have always been Katie, Katie B., Kate Burba, or just Kate.
So, for the record, I AM NOT a Kathryn but most importantly I AM NOT a Kathy!
But, on my first day of my internship I made one fatal mistake: after being asked, “Is Kathryn okay?” I responded, “Yes that’s perfect! Whatever is easiest for you!”
At first I didn’t realize they were talking to me and it sounded like nails on a chalkboard. As time has gone on it almost feels like I am living a double life, feeling like less of myself while in the work setting. Now, almost a month into my internship, I am unfortunately stuck with Kathryn, for better or worse.
To some people a name is just a name but, to me, my name is my brand! I feel like it encompasses who I am and it just feels right. I am a Kate, I have always been a Kate, I will always be a Kate.
Always speak up about who you are, but most importantly about what you want to be called!
Learning to present yourself in a professional light is a great skill, but it never requires sacrificing yourself and your uniqueness! So keep your personality and learn to shine in a new setting — it’s totally possible to do.
I want to hear from you in the comments below!
Have you had an internship where professionalism was a problem? How did you integrate yourself into this new environment? Do you feel like you’ve had to sacrifice who you are for a job position?