13 Office Etiquette Rules Every First-Time Intern Should Know

13 Office Etiquette Rules Every First-Time Intern Should Know

Yes, you got the job! You can breathe now. But before you get too excited, don’t make the classic mistake of thinking you don’t need to put in any more work now that you’ve heard those two beautiful words, “You’re hired.” As a new intern, it’s important you continue making a good impression at the office. Every job has their own set of rules or guidelines, and if you fail to abide by them you could lose out on future opportunities because of your lack of professionalism. So to keep you on track, here are some basic office etiquette rules that will help you make a killer impression.

Be on time: If you show up late to your internship, it makes it seem like you don’t value your time with the company and don’t value their work. Lyudmila Bloch, a business etiquette coach at World Class Business Etiquette told Business Insider that when you are consistently late, “you are basically giving a silent message that you don’t care.” You went through the whole process of applying and getting the job—you owe it to yourself to take it seriously and make the most out of it.

Don’t get too personal: While it’s good to connect with your fellow employees or interns, getting too personal in the office isn’t a good idea. “Over-sharing details of your personal life is unprofessional no matter how close you are with your team,” shared etiquette expert, Myka Meier with Town & Country. Bloch also told Business Insider it can make you vulnerable in the workplace if you share too much, which is never a good thing in a business environment.

Use your indoor voice: Not only is it rude to have loud conversations, but it can disturb others’ productivity. Bloch said to Business Insider “it’s intrusive” when you talk too loudly in an office space. You don’t want others to distract you with their loud discussions, so keep yours to a minimum as well.

Keep phone usage to a minimum:  “Phone usage is a weird one,” says Wallace. While using your phone isn’t usually completely restricted, you don’t want to be the intern who is always on their phone. Wallace’s general rule is to put your phone away and set aside your lunch break to talk to people. If you have to answer a call, Meier tells Town & Country, keep the call short and tell the person you’ll call them back later on your next break, or walk to a more suitable place to talk. As for texting, Wallace says sending a couple texts every now and again inconspicuously is okay, but taking selfies in front of your boss is a no-go.

Dress to make an impression: According to Business Insider, you should always dress on the more professional side. You are still trying to make a good first impression to the company, so while some employees may wear gym clothes to the office, Wallace explains that interns should err on the side of caution and dress nicer than average. She also says, “The first day is always the best day to ask about dress attire and analyze what everyone is wearing in the office.”

Office gossip is a slippery slope: “Even if you’re friendly with your colleagues, be aware of crossing boundaries.” Meier told Town & Country. When you get too caught up in the friendships and relationships that are being built within your internship, that’s when gossip and drama start to descend. Wallace says that when gossip comes into the office, “if you start an HR disaster as an intern, you won’t make it much further.”

Be considerate in every way you can: Being considerate in the office goes beyond being polite and saying thank you. You’ll be in a small space with a lot of people trying to get work done, and we all know sometimes the slightest thing can kill workflow. A few guidelines? Business Insider suggests trying not to wear potent perfume, avoiding smelly lunches, and keeping the office clean. Another rule Meier discusses is to remember that the kitchen is communal, so be aware if you’re in someone’s way and don’t leave messes.

Be nice to everyone: This goes without saying, but how you treat people is a very big reflection of you—so being nice and supportive to your colleagues is important. Bloch told Business Insider to never interrupt your co-workers. It’s not only rude, but it can be a sign of “poor social skills,” which is definitely not something you want to hear as your feedback. Smile at everyone you pass, listen to others’ ideas, and be supportive of your co-workers. Not only will it set a good tone, but they’ll probably show you the same respect in return.

Treat correspondence professionally: Meier told Town & Country, “email tone can be very hard to read, so be sure you’re using language that helps the recipient understand it.” You don’t have to write an essay, but make sure everything you’re saying is clear. Also, avoid any slang or texting habits. Emails are professional letters, and you never know who it will be forwarded to.

Share the credit: While showing your employer what you can do during your internship is important, never forget to share credit when it’s due. If you don’t acknowledge a fellow intern’s work, it could potentially hurt your reputation. Bloch explains to Business Insider, “you won’t come across as a team player.” And while a company may want a strong individual, they also want someone who can work with others, too.

Stay home if you’re sick: It’s important to keep your cold out of the office. According to Business Insider, the rule of thumb is you should stay home if you are contagious. Meier told Town & Country that if you don’t stay home, you could risk the whole office getting sick.

Don’t use the conference room for personal matters: The conference room is a place for business and work, so don’t take up the space for anything else. According to Town & Country, you should never take personal calls in there or treat the space like it’s your office. “Squatting is for the gym—not the workplace,” Meier continued.

Remember that social media isn’t private: If you want to vent about a bad day at work, or complain about a fellow intern who keeps stepping on your toes, social media is not the place to do it. Call a friend or family member after the workday. Privacy on social media is harder to control than you think, and Meier told Town & Country that it could always get back to your co-workers somehow.

Have you worked in an office before? What other rules did you find useful? Let me know in the comments below!

Featured photo by @kindakaili.