The Intern Playbook

A lot of people think being the intern is about diligence, obedience, and complaining about being the intern. You’ll recognize these people having their tenth anniversary dinner at Arby’s and wearing socks with their sandals. Throw away everything you thought you knew about internships, because you’re about to get hit repeatedly until point of concussion with the all-new intern playbook.

First of all, you don’t look anyone in the eye. Eye contact is a sign of weakness. In some cultures, eye contact suggests you want to eviscerate your conversation partner and trade his bowels for trinkets in the bazaar. However, since your internship is probably not in Norway, it’s the former. Instead, choose from the following. Looking the adversary in the nose ensures a short-lived conversation. In today’s market, efficiency is king, so the shorter the conversation the better. Alternatively, look over your shoulder. Your adversary will either assume you’re waiting on someone more important to come around the corner, or that a bear attack is imminent. Either way, he will surely flee, saving you sweet, sweet time. Note that all rules have exceptions, this rule being no exception. The one place you ought to look your colleague in the eye is at the urinal, particularly if he is using the urinal and you are not. The urinals are like home-base in a youngling’s game of “freeze tag,” i.e. a place of refuge where a subtle sign of camaraderie, such as a gentle stare, can go a long way.

Second, you don’t have a lot of time to get noticed, so make it count. The name of the game is power plays. No one remembers the guy that did as he was told. Case in point, try naming the twenty-two SS officers prosecuted in the Nuremberg Trials. Now try naming Edward Snowden. Which one was easier? Power plays come in all different shapes and sizes. There’s the “civil disobedience”, e.g urinating on your boss’s family portrait during your performance review, the “silly me”, e.g. ordering a truckload of avocados to the office on the company card, and even the “playing with fire”, e.g. coming to work without a tie. As the old adage goes, a power play a day keeps the doctor away.

Finally, network, network, network. Be smart about it. Everyone thinks they have to suck up to the boss. You don’t need to suck up to the boss. The boss is like your dad. He doesn’t love you, and he’s not coming back, but he’ll keep the cash flowing because he’s legally obligated to. Don’t talk to the other intern either. The other intern hasn’t read the playbook. The other intern also thinks the moon landing was faked. The last thing you need to do is deal with this dim-witted baboon sticking .jpegs of circus animals into pivot tables. Rather, you should focus on expanding your professional network on LinkedIn. While the fellow you stared down in the restroom will bolster your network, the best fodder for professional advancement is your latest Tinder match. Plus, an invitation to connect on LinkedIn doubles as a pickup line. Looks can kill, but financial stability can spark genocide.

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