Friday, March 22, 2013

8 Things You SHOULDN'T Do During Your Internship

From jocksniffing to donkeyjacking, interns do it all the time.  While I hate dwelling on the negative, it bears discussing.  Too often, we're seeing interns doing things they shouldn't.

In Part II I highlighted specific things you can do to ensure a successful internship.  Part I featured my internship story with the Houston Rockets.  As we continue the series "How to Win Your Internship and Parlay it Into a Successful Career" let's get the negative out of the way.

Some of these are TV news specific but they can translate to any and all industries:  

  • Don't be afraid to make a mistake.  A mistake is a great learning opportunity.  It will likely happen.  In fact supervisors expect them.  You're an intern!  Own up to your mistake.  Ask what you can do to ensure it doesn't happen again and then make sure to follow that protocol.     
  • Don't get offended by constructive criticism.  It will only make you better.  Take it to heart and learn from it.  The criticism you will get as an intern is much more empathetic than the ass-chewing you will get as an employee.  Trust me. 
  • Don't jocksniff.  I have seen interns hand their phone numbers to professional athletes and more.  You are not there to flirt, get boyfriends/girlfriends or drinking buddies.  You can have fun but be a pro about it.  Your reputation follows you.  We still talk about the intern who gave her number to a well-known race car driver.   
  • Don't be where you're not supposed to be.  If you're at a game or event using a station credential but are not there with a station representative or on "official business" you are not supposed to be there.  You don't get to go games and cheer with your pass.  You don't want to have the discussion we had with an intern following a phone call from a pro team's PR person asking why our intern was "bee-bopping" in a locker room. 
  • Don't donkeyjack on the job.  Our business, like many, is one dictated by time and sense of urgency.  A photographer once requested an intern to grab a tape for him literally football field away.  He needed a new tape because the current one was about to run out of room to record.  This intern dawdled and stopped to chat with a few people en route to grab the tape.  The photographer's tape ran out, he missed a big play while the intern was talking to people on the sideline.  Not good.
  • Don't ask for autographs from Dirk or ask to get your picture taken with Adrian Beltre.  As media professionals we will get our passes revoked for doing so.  So will you. 
  • Don't forget that anyone you come across can be a potential reference.  As social media puts people one tweet away from just about anyone, remember that a future employer can easily contact someone you worked with at your internship.  You might have thought that person at your internship wasn't a hiring influencer or "important enough" to make an impact on your professional future.  Wrong.  It's a very small world.  Assume everyone knows everyone.
  • Don't half-ass your effort.  So many of these internships are truly once in a lifetime opportunities.  Take full advantage of it.  You likely won't get the chance to do it again.  
None of this means you can't have fun.  On the contrary, your internship, particularly in sports media, can be the most rewarding, exciting and educational opportunity you will ever have.  If you take advantage of it and do the right things, it will be an experience that you draw on for the rest of your life.

Monday, I will share a conversation with CBS11/TXA21 sports producer and intern coordinator Chris Bullock.  He will outline what he looks for in interns, what makes a good intern and how he continues to see a growing number of interns who just don't get it.

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