10 Things They Don't Tell You About Your First Internship

From punctuality to dress code, here are some intern pointers.

Leave your new employer feeling confident about putting you on the payroll.
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6. Your ideas are encouraged. It's natural to be timid at first, but it behooves you to speak up, so participate in meetings and pitch new projects. This is how you prove your mettle. "Bosses love employees who take initiative. And one of the reasons companies like to have interns in the office is because they provide a fresh perspective," Parcells adds. =

7. You're going to be bored sometimes. There are many assignments that just can't be entrusted to you because you're too new to handle them. And there might even be times when you find yourself twiddling your thumbs while your manager determines what your next task will be. This is normal and something that pretty much every newbie experiences. To combat that, "Keep communication open with your supervisor to determine how you can pitch in," Riemer says. "And learn to set your own internal goals of what you'd like to achieve even if your supervisor doesn't."

[Read: Should You Take an Unpaid Internship?]

8. There's a difference in responsibilities for paid and unpaid interns. Some say you should always be paid, while others say it's not mandatory, but according to the law, it depends. The U.S. Department of Labor outlines six criteria that an employer in the private sector must meet to have unpaid interns:

1) The duties assigned have to be similar to those given in an educational environment.

2) The internship must be to the benefit of the intern.

3) An intern must not displace a regular employee.

4) The employer receives no immediate advantage from the intern's duties.

5) The intern isn't necessary entitled to a job offer.

6) Both intern and employer understand that the former isn't entitled to wages for the duration of the internship.

When interviewing you can ask about your responsibilities. If you feel that you're being offered an unpaid internship that doesn't abide by these standards – particularly the standard of the internship being an educational experience – then pass up the opportunity.

9. Quality is more important than quantity. As a student you've learned the importance of meeting deadlines, and it is true – deadlines are important. But it's not efficient to work hurriedly and then leave several t's uncrossed and several i's without their dot. "Students and first-time interns tend to think faster is better and that they appear smarter if they work quicker," Riemer says. "But it's OK to stop, ask for feedback and do a thorough job. Learning takes time."

10. Work casual and campus casual are not the same thing. Don't let semantics trip you up: Many offices now have liberal policies and/or enforcement concerning dress code, but you need to dress slightly better than the full-time employees do. Here are some pointers: More of your body should be covered in fabric than isn't, regardless of season. And make sure everything is clean, ironed, not too short, not too tight – not too anything.