Don’t be ‘that’ intern: Code of conduct for summer jobs

Amy Hunter,

WASHINGTON – One piece of advice sticks out in Meghin Moore’s mind from her internship orientation, and the 21-year-old recites it easily: “A dress code is the law, you must always obey it.”

Kandace Redd, one of WTOP’s interns, wears a blouse and skirt appropriate for any business environment. (WTOP/Kristi King)

Moore is one of the 20 interns at WTOP this summer, and the dress code she follows is likely less strict than others in the D.C. area. But even at a radio station, Moore can’t wear flip-flops, tank-tops or T-shirts. And Moore knows this because the station gave her a list of what not to wear before she started work on Tuesday.

“I had to go shopping for work clo

thes,” Moore says. “So my mom and I were like, ‘OK, I need business casual clothes.’ That was done over the weekend.”

But not all D.C. interns get explicit instructions on what to wear and how to act at their summer places of oft-unpaid employment. And with an estimated 40,000 interns descending on the city every June, the potential is high for cautionary tales.

“There are probably some kids at Penn State who would wear a midriff top,” jokes Moore, who attends the school in Happy Valley, Pa.

Emily Sobel is a slightly different story. WTOP is the 19-year-old’s second internship, and she wears clothes she either already had or that her mother bought for her.

“My mom is really into buying me work clothes,” Sobel says.

But despite her comfortable wardrobe, Sobel was a little nervous when she started work on Monday.

“It’s a little awkward. You don’t really know how to act or how people are going to act around the interns,” she says.

The answer to both concerns – what to wear and how to act – is easier than one might think.

“Number one, they want to mimic the style and dress of whatever office they’re working for,” says Patricia Rossi, a business etiquette coach.

“If you’re in doubt, always kick it up a couple notches – not down.”

Rossi emphasizes that interns should be noticed for their ability and expertise, not what they wear.

“We’re judged before we even open our mouth. We’re judged from the head to toe,” Rossi says.

“You want to go ahead and invest in a nice suit, you want to fit in.”

If you’re not sure what other people at the company will be wearing, Rossi says, “Google, Google, Google.”

“Google everyone in the company. Google any social functions that might have come up that have some pictures. That way you can see what other people are wearing.”

Sue Rushkowski, human resources director at WTOP, says the most important thing is that interns dress in a respectful manner, meaning they should cover up.

“All of our people are at the top of their game, and you want their endorsement. It’s very important. Dressing inappropriately can impede your success,” Rushkowski says.

She also says no one needs to spend a fortune. A few new purchases can mix with some items already in the closet and make for a nice summer wardrobe.

Moore spent less than $300 on her new clothes. She got all of her new items at Target, Old Navy and consignment shops, which, according to Rushkowski, are great places to shop for internship clothes.

For the sake of all D.C. interns, here is the WTOP Intern Tip Sheet on what to wear and how to act.


Heat can be deadly to children left in hot cars

WASHINGTON – Children left in hot cars can suffer heat stroke and even die.

Because of the area’s hot weather, AAA Mid-Atlantic is cautioning drivers not to leave children inside cars in the heat and for people to call 911 if they see children in hot vehicles.

“With these temperatures, it will certainly be very hot and uncomfortable outdoors,” says AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John B. Townsend II.

“But as hot as it is outdoors, temperatures inside a car can quickly soar to nearly 200 degrees with no relief. This is hot enough to kill most living beings, and cause most cars to conk out or to break down on the road.”

The law is quite simple. Drivers face penalties for purposely or accidentally leaving a child in a hot car.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, heat stroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle fatalities for children 14 and under.

Parents can keep their children safe this summer by following these child passenger safety tips:

  • Do not under any circumstance leave a child alone in a car. The inside of the car can still become hot quickly, even if a window is partially open.
  • Call 911 immediately when a child has been left in a hot car unattended. Try to cool the child as soon as possible by applying cool water to the child’s skin. While waiting for help to arrive, cool the child. Use ice packs under his armpits and on his groin area. Or wet him with a garden hose.
  • Children should be taught that a car is not a play area. Never allow your child to play in an unattended car. Be sure to lock the car at all times and keep car keys away from children.
  • If a spouse or guardian is dropping off a child at day care, then make sure that he calls to confirm that all went well.
  • Request a phone call from the childcare center if a child is late or does not arrive on time.
  • Before locking the car door and leaving, make it a routine to always look inside the car. Drivers can remind themselves a child is in the car by doing the following:
    • Write a reminder note and leave it in the car where it will be seen.
    • Place important items, such as purses and briefcases, in the backseat with a child, as a way to remember to check the back seat.
    • Leave a stuffed toy in the seat next to you as a reminder.
    • Use an free iPhone app like Baby Reminder as an additional reminder.