Summer InternTips: Avoiding Distractions

Now is the time in your summer where you are getting tired of the daily grind. You’re tired of waking up early, tired of daily tasks at work and tired of your officemates’ weird mannerisms. When you are tired, you’re more likely to start up bad habits at work — nodding off in the middle of the day, not listening to instructions, and (worst of all) random distractions.

Distractions at work start off harmless. You discover an interesting website or a fun way to pass the time on office computers. At first, distractions are often office related — reading about your industry but not actually doing your assignment, chatting with coworkers, et cetera — but it often grows to more distractions, like Facebook, Buzzfeed or Twitter. That’s when you get in trouble.

If you find yourself constantly at the mercy of random distractions, and you discover you’re spending most of your time at work looking for ways to avoid work than actually doing it, you should probably follow these tips:

1. Look for an assignment change. Sometimes, a dumb project is the reason for your boredom at work. See if you can find a project that interests you more. After you do that for a while, switch back to the project that made you bored. Maybe you’ll be rejuvenated.

2. Take a five-minute break every hour. This is the best advice I have. Ideally, this time should be spent away from your desk, maybe on a trip to the water cooler or a walk around the office. Refill your waterbottle. Go to the bathroom. Chat with a friend down the hall. Some time away from the desk is sometimes all you need to get back on track.

3. Be cognizant of your posture. Slouching, reaching, craning your neck can make you tired and harm productivity.

4. Have a healthy snack. Avoid the break room doughnuts and instead bring along an apple, some carrots, or some crackers with goat cheese. Unhealthy, sugary or greasy snacks usually don’t help your brain, especially if you’re already tired. Along those same lines, coffee won’t necessarily help your productivity or make you more alert, so try to drink juice or water instead.

5. Have fun with work. If you see work as a chore, you won’t do it. If you like doing it, you will do it. A simple attitude change might be all you need to fix your productivity.

6. Set little goals for yourself. It can sometimes help to set a goal to achieve for, especially if you are only working on a long-term project. Plus, it looks good to bosses.

Photo credit:

Summer InternTips: Making Your Job More Interesting

Every intern has experienced the same problem at some point: Everyone around them is doing awesome things, but they’re stuck fixing a spreadsheet, filing papers, Googling random facts about something or waiting for a new job assignment. Everyone seems busy. The intern is not. Everyone is having interesting conversations. The intern misses out on them because they’re filing mail in the back room or running to get something signed. It sucks, especially because the point of internships is not to sort papers, but rather to learn how to function in a workplace and gain some experience for our impending real life.

In order to start doing more interesting work, however, you might have to show some extra initiative, perform better on your current boring work or have what may be an awkward conversation with you boss. Luckily for you, we here at 4E have some tips for you.

1. Make it clear you want to move up at work. It can be hard to be enthusiastic about dull work, but bosses love to see you be enthusiastic about your work. If you’re excited (or willing to do grunt work), you will certainly be excited to do exciting work. If you do well in boring work, you’re more likely to do well in more complex and interesting jobs. Bosses also don’t put a lot of faith into people that can’t even fix a spreadsheet. You need to do the boring stuff to move up.

2. Show initiative. If you’re willing to take risks, accept new responsibilities and work a little outside the box in your boring job, you’ll probably be more likely to get a job that you deserve. Showing initiative in menial tasks is also a good way to show your bosses that you’re ready for that step up.

3. Maintain a healthy curiosity about others’ work. Oftentimes, interns will feel like they should concentrate on their own work. While that’s true, it really never hurts to ask your coworkers what they’re working on, offer help and learn from them. Informal work is one of the best ways to get more exciting tasks into your workday.

4. Excel in life. Go above and beyond on your assignments. Turn them in early. Show that you’re worthy of better things. (Also, if you finish boring assignments early, they might run out of them at some point.)

5. Maintain a positive relationship with your boss. If your boss likes and respects you, your boss is less likely to give you intern grunt work and more likely to give you real work (or at least more real work).

6. Ask if there is better work available. You’ll never know if you don’t ask. Sometimes, managers aren’t even aware you’re bored at your job. Just make sure that when you ask, you phase it like, “I’m looking for some new kinds of work,” instead of, “I’m better than the work I’m doing.” That can be a very thin line to thread, but it is important your boss knows you’re looking for new work without knowing you’re bored with your current work.

7. Change your attitude. All office work is boring sometimes. If you’re bored at work, take some steps to make your day more exciting. Visit a food truck at lunch. Take some frequent breaks and do some stretches. Drink a lot of water and eat healthy snacks. Get to know your coworkers. Especially if you can’t manage to get better assignments, it’s good to make your day interesting with something other than work.

Photo credit:

Summer InternTips: Not Blending into the Other Interns

D.C. in the summer is special for a lot of reasons: the oppressive heat and humidity, the crush of tourists, the litany of outdoor drinking options. But, D.C. in the summer is most definitely most famous for one thing above all else: interns. Every summer, thousands of interns from schools around the country descend on our beloved District for three months of schmoozing with government officials and lobbyists. Those of us here over the summer, however, have an edge on the other interns. Along with living in D.C. year-round, we’ve got friends and connections here. We know how to get around. We don’t have to live in GW dorms for the summer.

But, to our coworkers, we’re the same as every other intern. So, we here at 4E have some tips for those of you whose coworkers put you on the same level as your fellow interns.

1. Be better than the other interns. This shouldn’t really be too hard for you. Use your Georgetown education and treat work during your internship better than you treat your homework. (So, don’t procrastinate.) You are at work to do work. A lot of interns forget that.

2. Do projects right the first time. Make sure that you understand assignments clearly by asking questions and that you are on the right track by consistently staying in contact with your boss or project manager. A lot of interns are afraid to do this, which is their pitfall.

3. Develop a rapport with your boss by getting to know them outside of work with short “water-cooler” conversations. A lot of bosses like to talk about something other than work before actually beginning work. Don’t be afraid to embrace these conversations and let your personality shine through. If your boss only sees you as another intern, rather than a person, you won’t go far this summer.

4. Keep a safe distance between work and home life. A lot of interns are too comfortable sharing their awesome D.C. summer with their bosses. You don’t want to share your drinking habits, hookups and other debauchery with your bosses. A lot of interns forget that.

5. Become a leader for interns. (AKA, become the lady in the photo at the top of this post.) If you’re in an office with a lot of interns, you most likely have people that aren’t familiar with the area in your office. Become an expert on projects so that other interns can ask you questions about them. This can be difficult if you all started at the same time, but if you develop a positive professional and social relationship with the other interns, it should be a breeze.

6. Use your D.C. knowledge to set yourself apart. You’re in a much more familiar environment than most D.C. interns. You know the city. So, be a source of knowledge for other interns in your office and don’t be afraid to name-drop neighborhoods or restaurants that you’ve been to.

7. Avoid the stereotypical intern pitfalls. Try not to seem young, new, inexperienced or unprofessional. A lot of people (maybe not your bosses, but other coworkers) see interns as the dump for bad work. If you avoid those pitfalls, the intern stereotype will change and you’ll get better work.

Photo credit:

Summer InternTips: Gaining Respect

You’ve spent a couple of weeks at your internship now, and now that you’ve avoided most of the first week pitfalls, you’re ready to get more exciting assignments and take full advantage of your internship experience. Last week, we here at 4E gave you some tips to make your first week awesome. Now, we’ll give you the tips you need to gain respect at the workplace.

1. Volunteer for things. Most internships are composed of primarily tasks fulltime staff members don’t want to or don’t have time ro perform themselves. So, they’ll often ask for assistance on less exciting or less important projects that still need to be done. Especially if you’re in an office with other interns or if you have extra time on your hands, volunteering for extra projects is the best way to get noticed.

2. Don’t be shy. One of the best ways to get to know your coworkers is by meeting them in the hallways, in the break room, at lunch or when you walk by their office. Instead of customarily nodding or waving at them, introduce yourself politely. A lot of interns fall into the pitfall of being “the intern” that no one knows, so get people to know your name as opposed to your title.

3. Don’t slack off. If you have a project, get straight to work. If you don’t have a project, ask for one quickly. Most interns aren’t well known in their offices because they don’t do a lot of work. They sit around dillydallying on Facebook, ESPN, Twitter or Pinterest as opposed to asking for other work. If you really don’t have anything to do, read the news or other relevant materials to your internship (like company reports, etc.).

4. Know your work as well as everyone else does. The hardest part about interning somewhere for one summer is familiarizing yourself with your employer and your employer’s work. Still, you work there, and you should try to get to know the issues as well as everyone else in your office. This means reading industry news websites, following similar organizations’ work and asking around the office to figure out what specific people are working on.

5. Show off (but not too much). Don’t be afraid to showcase you knowledge, your skill set and your Georgetown education. Just don’t make a big deal of it. Everyone else at the office will start to hate you if you do. But, if you can show your skills in a humble way, you’ll score major points with the office.

6. Learn names. Try to learn you coworkers’ names, and address them by name. It gives them an incentive to address you by name, as well.

7. Take notes and ask questions so that your work will be the best it can be. When you get an assignment, make sure that you know how to do it before you start. That way, you’ll turn out better work and you’ll start to earn respect in the workplace. The best way to earn respect at work is by doing something that deserves respect.

Photo credit:

Summer InternTips: Your First Week

If you’re like me, you just finished your third day of your summer internship. You’re learning the ropes at your new job, and you’re just starting to get to know your boss, secretary and office mates. But you’re still learning the ropes. You still have to check in at the front desk as a visitor because your badge hasn’t been made yet. You’re still eating lunch alone in your office. You arrive five minutes later than you’re supposed to because you missed your bus stop. (Note: these all apply to me. It’s OK.)

Because here at 4E we know that you’re probably in the same boat, we compiled some tips for how to make your first week as productive to your internship as possible:

1. Get to know your office. Explore all of the possibilities your company, building, and neighborhood have to offer. A lot of buildings (especially on Capitol Hill) have special perks to like food courts, cafes, ice cream or fro-yo, or fancy vending machines. Some offices have green roofs for lunch breaks so you don’t have to eat in your office.

2. Learn the ropes of your work. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is your first week — bosses expect questions, and always prefer them to incomplete or shoddy work. Now is the time to figure out how best to finish assignments so that you can do them consistently correctly for the rest of your internship.

3. Meet your coworkers, even the ones you won’t end up working with consistently. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to everyone. Basically, you don’t want to be the intern that no one knows the name of come July. Plus, think networking.

4. Start off on a good foot. Though you should expect to make some mistakes, be prompt, polite, and make an effort. Your bosses will expect mistakes as well, but they’ll be watching your work ethic and demeanor this week. Even if you make mistakes, making a good effort this week will help you secure more interesting and important projects later in your internship.

5. Save your money. Unpaid and paid interns alike, we all have thin wallets. So save your money by making your lunch ahead of time and bringing it to work, taking the bus ($1.50) instead of the Metro (with an upcoming price increase in July) or a cab.

6. Stay positive. Even if your week is rough (many of ours will be), the rest of the summer won’t be. Believe in yourself and your ability to learn how to do your job, meet other interns and network with your coworkers. The first week is tough for everybody. Almost certainly, next week will be better.

7. Link in with the greater D.C. intern community. D.C. in the summer is an exciting place with tons of other college students visiting us for the summer. Even though we here at Georgetown are blessed with a hefty set of connections in D.C., it is always a good idea to meet kids from other colleges at other internships. There are plenty of blogs, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages dedicated to summer interns here. Most are only relevant to those who don’t have the privilege of living in D.C. during the school year, but they’re still good resources for anyone on the Hilltop with an internship.

Image credit: Vanity Fair