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Basic Survival Skills to Make it Through Your Internship

By Katelyn Stark

Are you approaching the wide seas of your first time as an intern? Are you wondering what exactly you’re going to be faced with on your first day of being in the office? We might not be able to guide you in what to pack for lunch in the business world or how to approach your boss about hiring you after graduation, but we can teach you the basic writing issues you might face.

1. The Memo

Even the word memo has a strange ring to it. What does it mean when your boss asks you to send a memo to remind everyone of the meeting that afternoon? Does it mean going from office-to-office, cubicle-to-cubicle memoing to everybody about the meeting? Does it mean posting a status on the company’s Facebook page? Tweeting about it? Making a poster and sticking it in the break room?

The memo is actually an internal message to the staff of the company sent via email. Here’s the basic format:

MEMO

TO: (Name(s) of person(s) involved)

FR: (Your name or your boss’s name)

RE: (Regarding the meeting)

DA: (Time and date of meeting)

(Write message here)

Things to remember about writing a memo: they are quick and to the point. They are there to be efficient, concise, and to get the message across quickly to other staff members. And because you placed their names and your name at the top, there is no need to have a Dear or Sincerely section.

2. Social Media

This one should be easy, right? You are a part of the millennial generation who grew up on the lingo of tweet, timeline, status, profile pic, selfie, insta, filter, hashtag, liking, posting, yik-yaking, etc. But how do you transfer this knowledge of your own self-presentation to the representation of your company?

The first thing to do is to figure out what your company is trying to achieve with their online presence. Are they trying to gain awareness for a cause, convince people to buy their products, or simply gain followers? Now think back to that rhetorical analysis you had to write in English 2001. Try to foster the knowledge of rhetoric—how people are speaking, to whom they are speaking, and what bias they have in what they are saying. If you can figure these out, you will be better equipped to post the status and hashtag the tweets. You don’t want to be the person who likes other companies’ statuses compulsively when you really need to be posting news about the charitable 5K your company is hosting. #amirite? #rhetoriciscool

3. Administration Notes

Though it seems basic, novice interns are susceptible to silly mistakes in the administration department. Are you in charge of answering the phones? Make sure you get the name and the number (and his or her extension line) of the person when he or she calls for your boss and you’re the one taking the message. You don’t want to get off the phone with that person, tell your boss a Melissa called, and he or she asks, “Who?” Be clear, concise, and neat when delivering notes to the person who might hire you one day.

When taking notes at meetings, besides making sure your notes are legible, keep your notes efficient—highlighting key words, dates, and ideas. It’s also a good idea that after each meeting you sit in on, take five minutes afterwards and write an overview of what you remember taking place and what you feel like was accomplished in the meeting. Your analysis skills might be deemed worthy and exceptional from your boss!

We know that you are going to make a great intern! If you have any questions about writing while you’re on location, you can always contact the University Writing Center.