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42 Mistakes to Avoid As An Intern

Imagine ... you are being offered an internship at a great company. You can't wait to get started. The question that you might ask yourself now is: 

What faux pas should I avoid during this limited time? 

Here is a guide that helps you to have a head start by avoiding these 42 mistakes. 


Mistake # 1

Not doing your research about the company and knowing very little. 

Thus, invest a bit of time and try to find out as much as possible. Read articles, check out their social media presence, etc.



Mistake # 2

Not being interested in what they are showing you or in the tasks that need to be done. 

If you are keen on working at that company after graduating, they would never consider you based on your disinterest. Show your interest and your enthusiasm. 



Mistake # 3 

Hesitating to ask others for help.

When you need advice or help, just ask. It’s better to ask then to make mistakes which could have been easily avoided. 



Mistake # 4 

Rejecting to do certain tasks.

Look at all the tasks as opportunities. You are there to learn, no matter how easy or challenging the tasks are. 



Mistake # 5 

Not introducing yourself to others.

Try to get to know everyone, introduce yourself so that everyone knows you. 



Mistake # 6 

Not dressing appropriately.

Look at how others are dressed, and dress accordingly. 



Mistake # 7 

Not turning up on time.

Remember, always being on time shows that you respect your work colleagues, that you take your work serious and that you care. It’s better to arrive first and to leave last, then you come last and leave first. 



Mistake # 8 

Never asking any questions.

Show your genuine interest and ask questions, be they project-office-company or facilities-related. 



Mistake # 9 

Not taking any notes.

Show your interest and make it easier for yourself by taking notes if people give you certain information. Make sure you keep them in an organised way so that you can quickly and easily look at them when needed. 



Mistake # 10 

Not networking, not connecting with others.

Use your lunch breaks to go for a walk or have a chat with your colleagues. Doing it every day with a different person, will allow you to get to know everyone in a short period of time. Get to know as many people as possible within the company. But also connect with other interns and find out what their experiences are. 



Mistake # 11 

Don’t sit around and surf on social media. 

You can do this in your spare time but not during working hours, unless it is an essential part of your job.Remember, bosses often monitor what their interns or employees are doing. Your internet history can easily be tracked. 



Mistake #12 

Acting as if you know it all.

You are there to learn. You know the least. You are the last one that joined the company. Realise and act accordingly. 



Mistake # 13 

Not taking the initiative.

If nobody gives you tasks to do, roll up your sleeves and try to find your own things to do. Learn to see what could be done until you will be told what to focus on. Don’t just sit around idly.



Mistake #14 

Not offering your support.

If someone needs help or an idea, make sure you are there to give your input. 



Mistake # 15 

Don’t look at tasks as being too small or too big.

Use every opportunity to learn and to grow. Dive into each task and project and challenge yourself. 



Mistake # 16 

Oversharing too much of your personal life.

There are things that you need to keep to yourself. For example, family matters, financial situation, relationship issues, health matters, etc. Be professional throughout the process. 



Mistake # 17 

Not thinking of what you are saying.

Always try to articulate in a good way the things you want to convey. 



Mistake # 18 

Don’t overpromise and underdeliver.

Always try to meet deadlines but don’t promise more than what you can keep. 



Mistake # 19

Forgetting peoples’ names.

You don’t want to have embarrassing moments where you don’t remember peoples’ names after days or weeks working at the company. 



Mistake # 20 

Not building rapport with the people you are working with.

Take 30 minutes on various occasions to get to know everyone. 



Mistake # 21

Don’t start gossiping about others. 

They will look at you as a person you can’t trust. Also, don’t get involved if others gossip. 



Mistake # 22

Waiting for the performance review where you will be given feedback on how you are doing.

Instead inform your supervisor or manager on a weekly basis, what you did, how you progressed and what you achieved. Keep him/her informed and then be prepared for the moment when the performance review takes place.



Mistake # 23

Not taking the feedback seriously.

If your manager gives you feedback, take it onboard. Learn from your mistakes and try next time to improve.



Mistake # 24

Not being commercially aware.

Ignoring to read industry-related news, etc. is never a good idea. Instead, get used to read up a lot on what is going on in the industry and be knowledgeable. This will prevent you from feeling awkward or embarrassed in case someone involves you in a discussion on current events or industry-specific news. 



Mistake # 25 

Not preparing and not rehearsing.

If you need to hold a presentation and demonstrate certain results, make sure you rehearse well so that you come across as well-prepared and as professional as possible. Also, prepare for potential FAQs that you might be asked. 



Mistake # 26 

Don’t limit your learning experience. 

Have an inquisitive mind. Be like a sponge. Soak up all the information, knowledge and expertise from others. 



Mistake # 27 

Not asking yourself what the next steps are.

Once your internship is finished, you should have a better understanding on what your next steps are. Ask yourself: Is this a company where I can see myself working after graduation? 



Mistake # 28 

Slouching into your chair when working with others.

Always sit upright and show that you are attentive. 



Mistake # 29 

Assuming things, instead of asking.

If you don’t know what task on your to-do list has the absolute priority, you need to ask. Don’t make assumptions. 



Mistake # 30 

Making mistakes in your communication.

Whenever you write to your boss or other colleagues, always proof-read your content first. Make sure you don’t make any mistakes. You don’t want to be perceived as being sloppy, do you? 



Mistake # 31 

Not double-checking what the task consists of.

Try always to reiterate what the task involves, so that you avoid any misunderstandings and get it right straight away. 



Mistake # 32 

Not going the extra mile.

Don’t just do what is expected from you to be done. Instead, look beyond and exceed other peoples’ expectations. WOW them! It will surely make you more memorable. 



Mistake # 33 

Not following the instructions.

If you are given certain instructions to follow, make sure you do it. 



Mistake # 34

Don’t let your gown down too early.

Stay professional at all times. You are there to work, not to entertain others or enjoy yourself. 



Mistake # 35 

Not speaking up if you are being treated unfairly. 

If you are not being treated fairly or you feel harassed, uncomfortable or anything else, you need to approach your Manager or HR Manager and speak about it. This problem will not go away by itself, and bottling it up will not help. 



Mistake # 36

Holding back your desire to work there permanently. 

If you feel this is the dream company you want to work for after graduating, don’t hesitate to let the company know about it. Show your enthusiasm and express it. 



Mistake # 37 

Not being positive. 

Having a negative attitude is something that nobody in a company will appreciate. Thus, try to make the best out of the situation and keep yourself positive throughout your internship. 



Mistake # 38 

Not taking part in meetings and corporate parties.

Build the human connection and get to know your colleagues on a different level.  



Mistake # 39 

Not asking for clear objectives/goals/expectations.

Knowing this from day 1 will avoid disappointments and save you a lot of time. Make sure you know what is expected from you in the first week, first month, first six months, etc. 



Mistake # 40 

Not setting up regular meetings with your boss.

You don’t want to be left in the dark when it comes to your performance. Thus, make sure you meet your boss/supervisor on a regular basis. If it is not planned, make a suggestion and see whether it can be done. 



Mistake # 41

Sharing corporate details and confidential information with others. 

Keep in mind that there is sensitive information that you might come across within a company which you need to keep strictly confidential. Thus, don’t share with friends, family members or even strangers. It could be a reason to terminate your internship instantly. 



Mistake # 42

Not using the corporate resources to keep up-to-date within the industry.

When the company offers magazines, journals, books, courses, etc. to keep updated, make sure to take advantage. This way, you show one more time, that you are interested and engaged with the company. 

If you know someone who could also benefit from this article,  

please share. Thank you.



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