Professional relationships at your internship

Professional relationships are all about accomplishing tasks in the workplace while maintaining a congenial rapport with your supervisors, coworkers, and fellow interns.  A good tactic is locating one or several people whose professionalism you respect, and observe how they navigate professional office relationships.  If you are shy by nature, challenge yourself to initiate and participate in conversations with others at your internship site.

 Your internship is not “The Office”

While your internship may take place in an office, you probably already know that professional office relationships don’t have much in common with the television show.  Pranks, jokes, gossip, teasing, backstabbing, wasting time, making fun of the boss, etc. are all things to stay away from during your internship.  The Office is a caricature though, and might make it easier for you to locate examples of unprofessionalism when it happens.

 Your internship is not “Gossip Girl (or Guy)”

It can easy for interns and professionals alike to fall into the office gossip trap—they may want to vent frustration or share the latest news, and you want to build rapport and have people to talk to during lunch or breaks.  If you identify office gossip, listen without taking part.  Think of a way to smoothly change topics or identify a reason to leave the area.  Not all office talk is gossip, though!  It is important to show an interest in what is important to the people around you.

 Your internship is not “The Dating Game”

You’re going to make connections with the people at your internship— that’s natural.  It’s best to keep these connections professional and not romantic. Flirting is also discouraged during your internship, because it will hinder your professional image.  It is a good idea to hold off on dating someone you met through your internship until the internship is over.

Things you can do to build professional relationships

· Greet coworkers every day

· Use active listening

· Show an interest in the work activities and projects of others

· Follow the lead of others you respect at the organization

· Ask questions in person instead of email when possible

· Be weary of when it’s time to break and time to get back to work

· Actively participate in meetings when it is appropriate

· Keep it clean and stay away from profanities, double ententres, biting sarcasm, and gossip

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