Joseph had his amazing technicolor dreamcoat. Harry Potter had his wand and his broomstick. Carrie Bradshaw had her Manolos.
I’m here to tell you (you, meaning college students specifically that I’m talking to with this post today), that you need to think of wearing professionalism at work just like clothing mentioned above. Why? Read on.
I read Pete the Planner’s Intern’s post today on how to be a great intern, and I thought it was good. Furthermore, it seems of late this has been an issue I’ve faced…several times…in my own life. Not so much how to be professional. Instead, how to help others become professionals themselves and TEACH this skill. So…I’m going to add a few items to the list linked above for your consideration while interning, in an effort to help you be all you can be when it comes to blossoming as a professional. Ready?
1. Own the job: Pete’s intern says blend in and make them forget you are the intern. I say, act like you’ve already got the job, and you’re fighting to keep it each and every day. Go above and beyond. Anticipate needs. Prevent fires. Own your responsibilities. By the way, NONE of this you really learn in college per se, you just have to get your Manolos/wands/dreamcoats on and deliver these mad skillz. They aren’t really super teachable – they just are.
2. Ask the 3 key questions: In the world of pharmacy rotations, you don’t get to pick your rotations. However, you can manage them well, or they can manage you. Don’t be in the latter camp. Stop the madness by asking 3 key questions on your internship day one: 1. To whom do I report? (If this isn’t obvious). 2. What is expected of me out of this internship? (Projects, processes, orientation, etc.?) 3. What resources do I have available at this internship to get #2 completed? Again, it is YOUR responsibility to take ownership of the position and know what is expected of you from day one. No. One. Else’s.
3. Feedback: do it, but don’t overdo it: Ask for a time, perhaps once per week, where you can sit down with your boss/preceptor/manager to get feedback on where you are and where you’re headed. AND…even more important, do NOT over request feedback. Some younger people today love and expect instant and lengthy feedback. Don’t suck the life out of your boss/preceptor/manager–they’ve got other fish to fry. Instead, respectfully request that you take perhaps 30 minutes of your boss’s time at the end of the week (if for example on a 4-week internship) for performance review. That’s it. Don’t email them every 5 minutes and expect instant feedback and answers. Sometimes, they don’t HAVE all the answers. That’s why you’re there – to help them FIND the answers, in some cases.
4. Treat the internship as priority #1: because it is. That means, don’t ask for the weekend off to fly to Timbuktu to spend time with your friends if you’re already committed to serving in this position. That means, don’t alter your schedule because it isn’t “convenient” for you. Why? Because there are about 1,000 others who would probably be more than happy to take your place in that internship, and THEY WOULD NOT ask for that time off. So why should you? (Emergencies are another matter – but even too many emergencies reeks of you not being able to manage your life. So if you can’t manage your own life, how are you going to manage a job on top of that?)
5. The vault holds a chamber of secrets for a long, long time: This world really is small and shrinking. Your work ethic and professionalism are remembered for a long, long time. That can be a force in your favor, or used against you. It is against you when you aren’t professional on your internship. Think of it this way – your professional reputation (or lack thereof) is very much like a bank account. You make withdrawals when you screw up, or don’t show up, or are late, or whine, or complain to your boss.
You make deposits when you go out of your way to bust a move to get things done, anticipate needs, and show up on time and work hard to achieve what it is that you are there to do. The bank account goes with you wherever you go. Thus, if you did a lousy job at a site that has 2,000 employees, do you think your transactions don’t carry any weight? They do. Furthermore, people talk. And if you did lousy at that 2,000 employee internship, while you only had 1 boss, he or she can talk to those other 1,999 co-working peeps and tell them what a lousy job you did. Keep this in mind every time you show up to work.
There you have it. Professionalism isn’t a course in school, it is a mindset. You must, must, must start thinking like a professional the day you hit the job market. Otherwise, you’re going to be out of the job market, and fast. Get that professionalism on, and never, ever take it off at work, period. People are watching you, so make sure you put the “amazing” back into that amazing technicolor professionalism dreamcoat!