The Intern Guide to Online Optimism

what do i need to prepare for an internship

Intern To Do List: 9 Internship Musts

Internships are undeniably the foundation of any professional career. They allow you to get hands-on experience in your field or industry, apply what you’ve learned in school, network with other professionals, build your resume and decide if you’re on the right path. Some internships even turn into full-time jobs – just ask the half of the Online Optimism staff that began as interns!

Unfortunately there is a myth that college students don’t need to do any internships until their Junior year, but the earlier you start building your resume, the better. Lauren Berger, also known as The Intern Queen, successfully completed 15 internships at big companies like Fox, MTV, and NBC during her four years in college, which eventually led to the successful launch of her own business in 2009.

Wonder how Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfried or Bill Gates started their careers?

As my summer internship comes to an end at Online Optimism and college students are getting ready to go back to school, my final task was to create the ultimate guide to interning at Online Optimism – or any great digital marketing agency. Here are nine things every intern should do to get the most out of the brief intern months:

1. Do Your Research and Come Prepared

Step one comes before day 1. Research the company’s history. Read their blog posts. Research their competition. Research their clients. What industries do they service? Where are their customers? Who do they pitch against?

Do as much research as you can and find out what differentiates the agency from their competition.

Knowing all this information can give you that extra push during an interview.

If you’re reading this blog post, you are most likely already ahead of other applicants.

Typing at a Laptop

2. Be on Time

Yes, it’s true. The Big Easy enjoys taking its time so much, that sometimes we can be just a little late.

However, being on time is a must to set your professional tone.

The beginning of any internship is the most important period of time. Give yourself extra time to get to work. Being able to anticipate when traffic is busy and learning secret routes to work is a must.

All the preparation in the world won’t prevent that one day when you get a flat tire after being stuck behind pedicabs though (thanks New Orleans transportation!). Inevitably, you will be late one day. It’s not the end of world. But be sure to communicate with your supervisor. In these last minute situations, avoid emails because they can be looked over. A text message or phone call will make sure your supervisor isn’t trying to assign your empty chair tasks.

As one of my co-workers’ managers used to say, “10 minutes early is on time, and on-time is late.”

3. Communicate Professionally

While we all think we have a professional way of communicating, there is always room for improvement. How you dress, speak, react, and generally behave are all direct and indirect ways of communication.

A quick note to all millennials who share their personal life on social media: Your boss won’t be too thrilled to see pictures of your Friday night shenanigans, so be sure to check those privacy settings before you begin your internship (even better – do it before you’re searching for jobs).

I like to go by this mantra: “If its not a picture you would show to your grandmother, then don’t post it.”

4. Offer Help 

It may not be part of your job description, but offering help is a great way to demonstrate value.

Interns often get the chance to work on many different projects. It’s vital to be open to learning new things and seeing it as an opportunity to grow.

Offering your help shows that you pay attention and think proactively.

5. Meet Deadlines

In the business world, there is always something that will go wrong. Murphy’s law is in full effect. Having things done early is a must, because chances are you are going to have to change something.

At an agency, we all depend on one another to get things done, so being early for deadlines, only takes pressure off of co-workers. If you feel like you’re getting behind and you’re not on schedule, let your supervisor know ahead of time, so you can get help if needed.

6. Be a Self-Starter

In the professional world, people will not be there to hold your hand the whole time. While there is a training process, it’s up to you to take initiative. You should be an autodidact. If you don’t know what that means, take the initiative and look it up!

Unleash Your Inner Self-Starter is a great article to get you started.

Woman on Phone Typing7. Ask Questions

Asking questions is not a weakness. In fact, it is a strength. The ability to admit you do not know something, shows that you prioritize getting things done right. Even small questions here and there. They show that you want to learn.

That being said, after your first couple of weeks, be sure to look over your notes, or the training guide before asking questions. Your manager won’t mind answering the same question twice, but the third time the novelty wears off.

8. Pay Attention to Detail

When working in a field that involves writing, it is essential to read over your work. Getting another set of eyes to read something over before you submit it is a must. Typos are unprofessional and might cause a client (or your boss) to think you’re not paying attention to detail.

Here’s a tip: Print out your material and read it out loud. This forces you to read every word and enables you to more easily spot errors. 

9. Establish Relationships with your Co-workers

An internship is not only a great place to make connections for the future, but a great place to make friends. Go out of your way to be friendly, helpful and polite. Be sure to listen more than you talk. Be open to conversations between other employees as well, since they are giving you insight into company culture. Avoid complaining or gossiping even if others do it.

Authenticity is important to build good relationships.

relationships with coworkers


If you think you have what it takes to intern at Online Optimism, check our internships page for our next internship postings. We look forward to hearing from you. Good luck!