A recent CBS-TV poll in the US found that 42% of those with internship experience got jobs, compared to 36% who got jobs with no internship experience.
Further, job seekers with an internship under their belt received a starting annual salary of $42,000, compared to $35,000 a year for job seekers who did not complete an internship.
In today's global economy, these numbers speak volumes: internships pay and they’re not just for students anymore. More and more adults (including out-of-work Baby Boomers) are securing internships as a foot-hold in a particular industry or as a way to gain entry into a flat job market.
Whether an intern is a college student or a back-to-work Mom, the one common denominator they all share is that today’s internship is ‘a real job’, which means interns (of all ages) must look, speak and act the part.
This applies to the burgeoning field of virtual interns as well, because e-communication matters.
Internship Biz Etiquette Tips
* Whether you work as a receptionist greeting clients, in the back office stuffing envelopes, or assisting the CEO of a Fortune 50 company, look like you mean business. Rule of thumb? Dress two levels above your current position.
* Make a good first impression by shaking hands with everyone you meet. Technique? Two quick arm pumps while making firm, web-to-web contact.
* Connect with people by making eye contact 40% - 60% of the time in between the eye brows. Never look below the mouth; it’s too personal.
* Avoid cell phone rudeness. Keep your smartphone on vibrate or a low ring tone and use your library voice when around co-workers.
* Don’t surf the net from nine-to-five. Nothing earns the ire of VPs more than an employee who shops for bargains on net-a-porter or plays solitaire on company time.
* Nail your dining etiquette skills. If you’re lucky enough to be invited out for lunch or dinner with your boss or office mates, bone up on your dining skills: Remember B-M-W (bread, meal, water) is the standard place setting; hold your soup spoon like a pencil; keep all personal items off the dining table; don’t order messy food like spaghetti and, if in doubt, take your cue from your host.
* Virtual interns take note: 21st Century e-communication is no different than 20th Century corporate communication. When working remotely, avoid humour and emoticons which don’t translate well online; use spell check; check for grammatical errors; remember that people are busy receiving hundreds of e-mails a day. Don’t cc everyone in the office.
The author is the president and director of The Protocol School of Washington, which provides professional etiquette and protocol training. Founded in 1988, PSOW is the only school of its kind in the U.S. to become accredited. Any opinions expressed are her own. PSOW's website is