Office Ettiquette 101: Advice For New Interns

There’s a lot of things I wish they would’ve taught us in school before coming to college and going out into the workforce. I can’t do my own taxes, I have no idea how to navigate getting my car inspected and I can’t maintain more than $10 in my savings account… but, you know, I really found the Pythagorean theorem to be so useful when my car broke down on the highway. But I digress.

One of the things I wish I would have learned more about is how to behave in a workplace and go about the formalities of business, particularly one you are new, maybe as an intern or a freshly graduated hire. While every company has a different workplace culture, here are some basics:

 

If you’re making coffee, offer everyone coffee.

As the lifeblood of America, it is considered polite to offer to make a whole pot if anyone else is interested in a morning cup of joe. Plus, it might make you some new friends (I have bonded with many a-coworker over our mutual addiction to lattes).

 

Excuse yourself for personal calls.

If you need to take a personal call, ask to step outside and let your supervisor know.

 

Make sure no one has an allergy to your lunch if you are microwaving it or eating near people.

I learned this the hard way. At my first office job, I microwaved Thai Peanut Sauce, not knowing one of the girls had a really bad peanut allergy. She had to go home because she got so nauseas. After a million apologies and a promise to never bring a single peanut into the office, her and I had a great relationship, but I never got over almost sending her to the emergency room. Just ask around the office to make sure no one has an allergy to something you bring in often.

 

Keep your workspace clean at all times.

Leaving a mess behind, even if it's at your own workspace, for some, noticing a mess is a huge roadblock in creativity. And it just makes the office look messy. Keep your space clean and be mindful of other areas you use as well.

 

Don't come to work sick.

One of the first things I learned in my internship is that no one is going to blame you for calling out when you’re sick… most of them don’t want you anywhere near them if you are.