December 28, 2010

What Not To Do: Don't Muddle Through Without Asking Questions

"That was a stupid question!" Yup. You may have heard that one before. But as cliche as it may sound, there are no stupid questions. Really. However, there are some questions that will make you look unprepared.

Some things you can do to avoid this are:
  • Do as much research/prep work humanly possible. As I've already touched on, admin basics are a must. Additionally, do research on the company you are working for before you start, and continue to follow their news and their present role in the industry. Research on the area of the industry you are interning in is also valuable (ie. label operations vs. concert promotion operations, etc.)
  • Do a quick Google search, if possible. You have the internet at your disposal. Lots of questions can be answered with a little bit of quick research. This obviously can't apply to all things, but if it is possible, take that route before asking super basic questions.
That being said, you ARE there partially to learn something, so don't be afraid of asking questions. It's much better to ask a question and feel a little silly, but then do the process correctly, instead of accidentally hanging up on people when you're trying to transfer them. And don't wait too long to ask questions when you have them. Asking them right away makes you look proactive. Asking them after you've messed up something simple 20 times does not help your cause. Here's a great scenario that someone I know had with an intern: you manage to put ALL of the CD inserts in sideways because you didn't understand why you couldn't get them in and refused to ask. How one does that, I do not know. But it happened. Don't do that. If the first one doesn't look right, just ask. Really. They're going to forget you asked sooner than if you put all of the CDs together incorrectly without asking and don't seem to notice there's a problem. Definitely not impressive.

There are also such a things as GREAT questions. If you do your research on the company and the area of the industry you're interning in, you will then be able to ask informed questions that will actually illustrate that you know a thing or two, instead of making you look silly, and allow you to gain the sort of insight from professionals that you hope to obtain through your internship. This will impress your employer, and you will learn more than if you wasted time asking where you should make a copy of a document since they only seem to have a photo copier.

--Anna
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