10 ways to be a terrible intern

Got an internship? Do the opposite of these. Supervising an intern? Do any of these obnoxious behaviors sound familiar?


In the coming weeks, thousands of college students will graduate to the “real world” where they will be faced with the daunting task of acting like a professional.

Hopefully, these young professionals had an internship that taught them how to succeed in the competitive working world.

This column, however, isn’t about how to gain meaningful experience at an internship. It is meant for the careless type, who wishes to merely fulfill an internship credit and gain absolutely no professional experience.

For that guy or gal, I offer these tips:

1. Ignore criticism and continue doing things your way. Why listen to professionals who are successful and know what they are doing? Instead, do things the way you—with no professional experience—think they should be done and assume everyone else is wrong.

2. Sit around and relax while you wait for your next assignment. Hurry and finish a task and then avoid your supervisor until he or she notices that you aren’t doing anything. That way you can get by with doing the least amount of work and have nothing to show in your portfolio.

3. Give half an effort—it’s only an internship. You might be an unpaid intern, whose work isn’t expected to be perfect. So why try? Sloppily get things done and show your supervisor you couldn’t care less.

4. Huff and puff over grunt work. Throw a fit when you’re given less meaningful tasks to complete. That way you will show your supervisor you can’t complete small tasks without having a tantrum, so you aren’t ready for larger, more significant assignments.

5. Don’t ask questions; instead, assume you will do it right. When you get an assignment that you don’t understand, just guess and never ask for clarification.

6. Constantly refresh social media sites on your computer and smart phone. Obviously, your social life is more important than anything else. End of story. If you are asked to complete an assignment make sure you refresh Twitter at least seven times before getting started.

7. Just get up and leave when it’s time for you to go. Never check in with your supervisor when you are about to leave because he or she might give you more work to do. Instead, the minute it’s time for you to leave, just charge out the door without saying a word.

8. Don’t make friends. Be mean to everyone and roll your eyes or ignore anyone who is nice to you. If you must communicate, be short and emotionless in your response. It’s not important to make friends, you are here to complete an internship and move on.

9. Talk all the time and share every detail of your life.
Stop whoever walks by your desk and tell them about your friend’s sister’s cousin who recently broke up with her boyfriend. It doesn’t matter that you’re at work and trying to actually, you know, work.

10. Never say a word and sneakily linger around others. Sneak around the office without being noticed. If you are asked your opinion in a meeting, pretend you are mute. That way they will never know if you have a good thought or idea.

So, careless interns, if you wish to gain absolutely nothing from your internship experience, except for maybe a few gruesome recommendations, follow these tips closely. And don’t forget to scowl at your supervisor every morning.

Megan Skelly is a senior PR and Advertising major at Ball State University and will be graduating this May. Megan served as the 2012 spring B2B PR intern at BLASTmedia in Indianapolis. A version of this story first appeared on the BLASTmedia blog.

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