Loyola University Chicago

School of Communication

Succeeding in the Workplace

Here are some helpful hints for succeeding in the workplace. They apply to any job, whether it's an unpaid internship or your full-time job be a professional. (SOC Internship FAQs)

Twitter, Facebook and Web surfing:  Only partake in social media activities that are requested of you by your employer.  Do your own personal online time when you are elsewhere. If you are totally bored and have nothing to do, get creative -- look around and brainstorm some tasks or ways you might be helpful to the employer organization.

Answering the phone:  Ask your employer if there is a preferred way to answer.  If not, you can't go wrong with "XYZ Organization. This is _______________(your name).  How may I help you?" Be careful not to reveal personal information about coworkers.  You can say to a caller that you will pass along a message, but no need to share that your supervisor is out to lunch, in the bathroom, having a root canal etc. 

Personal phone calls:  Just don't do it.  Don't take them and don't make them while you are on the job and keep your phone on silent.

Office supplies:  These belong to your employer and are there for your at-work use only. Even if there are boxes and boxes of gel pens, only take the one you need to do your internship work.

Alcohol and socializing:  Avoid the first and do the second only with extreme caution and propriety.

When in doubt.  Ask questions.  Don't guess, never assume.

Promptitude:  Be on time. One of the top complaints of employers about interns is tardiness. Want people to notice you in a positive way?  Arrive early. 

Balancing school and internship:  It can be tricky making time for everything when you are a student and you are working.  The best way to navigate this is to set up a crystal clear schedule and expectations when you first start your internship.  If you'll be leaving town for an occasion such as Thanksgiving or Spring Break, let the employer know this when you accept the position. 

Set a work schedule that you can meet and that is reasonable for your life. Plan ahead with your school projects so you don't end up in a crunch.  Few employers appreciate hearing, I've got to study. 

Finally, don't complain about your school load and personal problems while you are at the workplace.  Your employer may seem empathetic but you aren't putting your best foot forward. Maintain a professional demeanor and stick to work-related topics. 

Samples:  Ask before taking anything, such as writing samples or electronic copies of files. Same goes for taking photos. If you want something for your portfolio, ask first.