5 Steps to a Legendary Internship
If you have ever watched the hit TV sitcom How I Met Your Mother, you would know that Barney Stinson is the paragon of determination and success at singlehood. From his competitiveness to his magic tricks, Barney has evolved from a one-dimensional womanizer to the eloquent and creative –sometimes, sensitive – “Mr. Awesome.” Finding a parallel with internship success might seem like a stretch. Some may even say it could not be done. To that I offer two words: “Challenge accepted.” So, here are the 5 steps to a legendary internship:
1) Suit up!
As Barney explained in the episode Single Stamina, he suits up “to distinguish (himself) from the millions of T-shirt and jeans lemmings out there.” Throughout an internship, you too want to distinguish yourself – from previous interns, current interns/coworkers, and your casual self. A sharply dressed young professional quickly becomes notable in the workplace. So, suit up!
Tip: Maintain a clean suit by using a lint roller to remove the little dust specks, keeping a stain remover stick in your desk drawer, and hanging it up ASAP.
2) Know the Code
From the “lemon law” to the “platinum rule,” the Barnacle finds in the Bro Code the rules to guide his existence in the universe. In the workplace, rules exist too. Some will be presented to you by human resources on your first day. Others are unwritten, requiring some adjustment time. Reading the employee handbook helps you avoid issues by informing you of company policies. When in doubt, asking your supervisor about puzzling situations helps you avoid issues by creating positive rapport with a knowledgeable and reliable mentor. Although, if questions can be looked up online, do not inundate your supervisor with them. The intern who lives by the code earns the respect of their peers and mentors.
Tip: Fellow Millennials, let your mentor know that you appreciate their insight and welcome their feedback.
3) Accept Challenges
Often, Barney uses the phrase “challenge accepted” when someone mentions something that seems impossible to accomplish. Completely ignoring the supposed challenger, he proceeds to fulfill the self-undertaken goal. This same attitude does wonders at work. Throughout your internship, challenges will present themselves to you. My advice is to embrace them with a determination and commitment that rivals that of Barney. In the end, when the challenges are completed and the problems resolved, not only have you opened yourself up to unique opportunities, but also proved yourself to be a hardworking, responsible, and creative member of the team. I can already see you posting a “challenge accepted” yellow sticky note in your cubicle.
Tip: Stay on top of your challenges by creating task lists and prioritizing projects.
4) Work Your “Wingman”
Stinson makes it clear that all bros should dub a bro his “wingman.” He is well versed with the benefits of a wingman, from picking up ladies to getting out of trouble. In the workplace, you will be introduced to either a mechanistic or organic organizational structure. Either way, finding the right wingman (/wingwoman) is crucial to mental, emotional, and occupational sanity and success. Therefore, in order to make a wise choice, an intern must consider characteristics such as relevant occupational interest, experience, sense of humor, friendliness, and intelligence. The most instinctive choice might just be your supervisor. I was fortunate enough with mine – true story.
Tip: Take the time to get to know your wingman (/wingwoman). The mutual investment pays off beyond your current internship – ultimately, into your dream job.
5) Be Awesome
Of course, neither you nor I could ever reach Barney’s level of awesomeness because we could never be Mr. Awesome himself. However, we can strive for awesomeness by applying our strengths and overcoming our fears. Whether you are good at analyzing data or creating content, you know your employer is expecting 110% effort, and the excellent results that ensue. Being awesome means going beyond the 110% to a state of mind where nothing holds you back from success, but also where the mask of super intern that you wear every day becomes more a reflection rather than a mere pretense. So, to paraphrase Barney: when you are overwhelmed at work, just stop being overwhelmed and be awesome instead.
Tip: Never be too awesome to help someone else or admit you are wrong/mistaken. Humbleness is essential to awesomeness.
Now that you know the 5 steps to a legendary internship, I expect you will quickly become a shining star in your workplace. However, before you put your super intern cape on, let me know your thoughts on this parallel between strategies for internship success and Barney Stinson’s tricks and tips. Did I fulfill my challenge?