How to Behave on an Internship

Feb 6, 2015
The Work

Obviously, if you cannot do the work to the standard expected by the firm, they will be unlikely to offer you a job. Whilst some pieces of set work will be harder than others, and minor mistakes may be completely fine, general attention to detail should never be overlooked. Proof read your work multiple times (even ask colleagues to have a read if you believe the circumstances render this appropriate) and make sure there are no spelling, grammatical or formatting errors as these can be easily avoided regardless of the level of legal knowledge you have accumulated.

Check to see whether there are particular fonts, templates or settings in Word or Excel that firms use as part of their 'house style' and where possible, adhere to these. This demonstrates your ability to absorb the ways in which the firm operates, whilst also ensuring the person judging your work will approve of it stylistically.

Consider who the work is addressed to. If it is for a client, then ensure it is short, concise and to the point (unless you are told otherwise) and that the language isn't too technical or full of jargon and acronyms. If the work is for a senior employee, perhaps query whether they would like you to reference the work (indicate the sources from which you found the information included), whether they have a rough word limit in mind, whether they would like single or double sided printing and perhaps even whether they would like a printed or an electronic copy. These are not stupid questions and can help to ensure the work is perceived as favourably as possible. However, asking these questions more than once may not be looked upon favourably, so listen carefully to the answers you receive.


You are selling yourself during an internship as much as a firm is selling itself to you (if not more!). Your personality will therefore influence a firm's inclination (or not!) to hire you. They will look for genuine commitment to your chosen career (they would rather not invest in you, only for you to leave a short way into your career). They will look to see how you fit in with the firm's culture (i.e do you get on well with the firm's existing employees). Are you a hard worker (for instance have you asked around for work if your supervisor has nothing for you, or have you avoided responsibility or failed to show a genuine interest in the work)? Are you professional and reliable?

The answers to these questions could influence whether a firm believes you have the ability to complete work in a very demanding, client-led environment and whether you can be trusted to work with high-profile clients and professional services firms that expect only the very best from their colleagues. Some roles may also require ample confidence and presentation skills. If this is the case, are you the quiet person in the corner, or the person making an effort to get involved and socialise?


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