The Secret to Fitting in at any Internship or New Workplace

Posted on July 27, 2011 by kennynorton 3 Comments

Ok, maybe this title is a little too polar, I can’t guarantee you are going to fit in. But from my times in many internships and working at a variety of new businesses, it’s one of the best tricks I’ve picked up and its almost flawless in terms of fitting in with a new crowd and gaining their approval.
It’s this simple: when you’re not overloaded with new work, or training, ask this simple question to anyone and everyone on your team:

“Is there anything that I can help you out with?”

This question goes a long, long way in gaining approval. Especially when the individuals have a lot of work on their plate, and would love a helping hand. Even if they don’t, it goes a long way to show initiative.

I picked this up after my first internship, where the organization clearly didn’t have a whole lot of work lined up for me and found myself bored out of mind throughout the day, so what did I do? Not knowing I begrudged, and continued to do nothing. Then my first review came up, and I asked for feedback from my boss, and he said, we need you to be more proactive. From that day forward, whenever I didn’t have a project I was working on, I asked for work with someone else, and eventually my plate began to get fuller, the days went by quicker and I got much more experience (which is the ultimate goal of an internship isn’t it?), and my co-workers began to get to know me better and open up to me more once I had gained their respect. You can’t lose, what’s the worse they can say? “I don’t have anything, but thanks for asking!” They’ll appreciate and respect you for it, whether they have something or they don’t.

Whenever I start a new job, or do work with a different organization it’s the number one thing I keep in the back of my mind. Whenever I have no work to do, I make myself useful. And this is something I will do for the rest of my life. I’m actually baffled how many people will come into an organization, sit at their desk and do nothing (aka surf the web, text, etc) until the work comes to them, instead of offer themselves as a helping hand to break the ice.

If you’re an intern or even a new hire who has a little too much time on their hands, a little help (or initiative) goes a long way.

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  • matt guenther

    Great post. And this is true @ any job. Besides, for some reason I enjoy doing work that I asked for over work that is “assigned” to me.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comment Matt. I agree 100% it definitely applies at all jobs from your first job at Starbucks to an upper level management role. And you’re right, a lot of the time the work passed off can be much more enjoyable than what you’re already doing, there really isn’t much to lose by showing initiative.

  • Michael

    The second formula is the phrase “flexibility”. Being flexible to any kind of work is the key success for everything.