The Good Intern
New Year, New Goals
The First Day
Posted by Michelle Pence - - 3 comments

Whether small or grandiose, the office holiday party is something the intern should never miss out on, and not for the reasons you might expect.

Even if you are an intern that just finished a semester internship with a company, the holiday party is something you should definitely still attend, as long as you were invited of course (crashers are never cool).

Word on the street may be that the office holiday party is a blast, but resist the temptation to throw on your reindeer antlers and light-up Christmas sweater and take some of my advice.  You can find tons of office party horror stories all over the web about Bob from accounting who had a few too many and ending up passing out on the buffet table, just like you can find countless tips about how you should avoid greasy foods and not drink alcohol, but honestly... the secret to making the most of the office holiday party is to just BE YOURSELF AND HAVE FUN.

Office parties are excellent opportunities for interns to socialize with people from work outside of the office setting and to display a whole new set of skills... social skills!  Although the party is still technically a professional event, you have the freedom to let the conversations flow to topics that interest you and to get to know co-workers on a more personal basis.  An excellent trait to possess is being comfortable in social situations and appearing confident and personable, so use the holiday party as an excuse to show off your ability to socialize professionally.  The end goal of socializing at the party should be to leave with stronger relationships with co-workers than when you arrived, but make sure you're still having fun and enjoying yourself in the process.  Once you're at the party, approach someone you have always wanted to get to know a little bit better and strike up a conversation.  Later on, do the same thing with someone you maybe haven't quite hit it off with yet in the office, but want to try to form a relationship with.

Here are some tips for office party schmoozing:

  • Avoid trying too hard to make a good impression on people... especially your boss.  Let the casual setting mellow you out and encourage you to act naturally, but professionally.
  • Don't monopolize one person's time and exit conversations on a high note.  Letting a conversation awkwardly fizzle out might totally reverse the social progress you made with someone, so after a few minutes of chatting excuse yourself politely and move on.
  • Stay away from any topics that have the potential to offend someone or lead to a heavy conversation, such as politics, religion, or dirty jokes.  People want to celebrate with positive people, not Debbie Downers or argumentative types. 
  • Definitely approach your boss, even though you may feel a bit hesitant.  This is the main person you want to show your confidence and charisma to, but keep this conversation the shortest unless your boss gives you cues to continue.  The head honcho is usually a hot commodity at the party and doesn't have a lot of time to spend with just one person.
  • If you don't know someone, introduce yourself!  Now is your chance to get your name out there and get to know people you never had the chance to meet before.  Network like there's no tomorrow!
  • Remember your good intern etiquette and thank the host, or whoever planned the party, for inviting you and for doing such a great job organizing the event.  A nice thank you note afterwards never hurts either.
  • Never complain about the company or gossip, even if the person you're talking to is going on and on about something negative.  I usually just nod my head and smile until the person gets the point that I'm not going to say anything back and changes the topic.
  • Be yourself!  Don't stress out trying to make yourself look great while you're mingling with people.  Although you might be able to sneak in some personal accomplishments or goals here or there, let them come to the surface on their own and just focus on having a good conversation.  

Dress Shirt & A Killer Suit
I have full faith that any aspiring good intern will know the basics of professional behavior that is still expected at the office holiday party. 

It's my policy that if you are over 21 and other people are drinking alcohol at the party it's completely acceptable to have a cocktail, just drink in moderation and know your limits.  Even if everyone else starts to get a little out of control, hold back and keep in mind that you want to protect your reputation... and your job as an intern.  You don't need alcohol to have fun, right?  

Forever21 Polished Cocktail Dress 
Also, don't forget to keep the party attire professional, even though the dress code may be more festive and casual than the average work day.  Although the men's outfit pictured to the left is outrageously expensive for an intern, you get the idea, plus the caption on the website explained it perfectly by saying, "Always dress like the man in charge- especially when you're not".  Ladies need to really make sure that their ensembles are not too revealing (you don't want that kind of attention), but it's completely okay to play around with bright colors and different jewelry.

The best advice I can give you is to be yourself, have fun, and leave the reindeer antlers at home!


3 Responses so far.

  1. Andrea Tarrell says:

    Great pointers -- I'm posting this tomorrow on for all of the interns at Rockwell Automation to take note of!

    I especially liked the tip about exiting on a high note -- that's a really good point. Nothing worse than awkward silences...especially when you're trying to put your best foot forward.

  2. Office holiday parties and usually fun and enjoyable but one should remember ethics. Well, at this moment we have been planning a seminar and lunch party for international clients. So would like to know about best corporate event venues San Francisco. Could you help?

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