5 bad habits you need to break before starting a full-time job
These rookie moves won’t fly once you start working in the real world.
But wait. If you’re thinking of your first real job as just an extension of your internship, you’re in for a rocky ride. While some expectations remain the same, many others do not.
Here are some of the intern habits you should break before transitioning to your first full-time job
1. Avoiding challenging projects
Certain companies involve interns in high-profile projects, but that’s not always the case. Whether you liked it or not, chances are you got stuck doing a bunch of grunt work. Let’s just hope you didn’t get used to it!
Full-time employees—even entry-level ones—are expected to do more than just follow orders.
“At permanent positions, you’re expected to have more than a superficial understanding of the work topic and be a bit more independent,” says Luz Claudio, professor and chief of the division of International Health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
At your internship, you might not have had the time to get invested in long-term projects. Or if you did, your internship may have ended before they did. Or maybe, you just avoided them altogether since you knew you’d be out of there soon. But at a full-time job, there is no “end date,” and you’ll be expected to get involved or even lead long-term projects that require significant strategic thinking. So raise your hand when the big assignments come up. And raise your voice, too. Contribute whenever, wherever and however you can.
2. Treating your job like a dress rehearsal
One of the perks of an internship is that it lets you dip your toe into a particular job or industry, sometimes just so you can see if it’s the right fit for you. That’s not so in the real world.
Once you’re working full-time, not only have you made a commitment to your employer to give your professional best, you also need to start looking at each post-internship job you take as a stepping stone on your career path. Carefully consider how each might affect the trajectory of your career.
“When you have a summer internship, you can work normal 9-to-5 hours and have a perspective that this may or may not be what you want to do as a career,” says John Crossman, president of Orlando-based real estate firm Crossman & Company. “But when you start your first real job, your workday begins when you open your eyes. Your work becomes much more about who you are.”
3. Waiting for instruction
At full-time jobs, there is much more of an expectation to work autonomously and independently than in internships where you may have had a bit more hand holding from your supervisor.
“You have to be able to make your own choices, see where improvements can be made, and jump at any chance to be innovative,” says Sarah Walsh, an online PR specialist for Web Talent Marketing in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Be proactive by taking the initiative to set up key meetings with others in the company, or making phone calls to move a project along.
4. Having informal desk etiquette
Books and papers piled up on your desk? Music cranking out of your headphones? Taking a few too many breaks to text your friends? While your boss may have let these things slide during your internship, he or she likely won’t during a full-time job.
“In the real world, with open and shared spaces, respect for your area, co-workers and the company is important,” says Jill Tipograph, co-founder of Early Stage Careers, a New York City-based company that helps students, recent grads and millennials transition into the right internship or first job.
5. Making small—but sloppy—mistakes
“Nobody’s perfect” and “everyone makes mistakes”—those phrases were probably first said with interns in mind.
The great thing about interning is that you’re often encouraged to make mistakes. Careless slip-ups are never awesome, even in an internship, but they’re more permissible when you’re learning the ropes.
In your full-time job? Not so much.
“Don’t develop the habit of not double-checking your work,” says Eden Amans, associate marketing manager at Betts Recruiting, a San Francisco-based recruitment firm. “Sending a sloppy email, misquoting a potential client or underrepresenting a company’s interest can seriously hurt your reputation.”