Just because Don Draper seemingly reaches for hard liquor every five minutes doesn’t mean you can, too.
For students dreaming of an internship in New York City, we imagine the Mad Men fantasy: the men in their tailored suits and slick fedoras, the women wearing cute pencil skirts, vibrant business suits decorated with extravagant pins and their hair up in a bun. There is something about the well-mannered, well-dressed business class of the ’60s that makes us nostalgic for that big city dream — a dream that many interns hope to achieve.
But other than their fashion, the characters of Mad Men do not follow proper office etiquette.
Don Draper is the worst offender of them all. He’s constantly late, drunk, offensive and sloppy. Instead of sitting through a boring seminar about intern behavior, why not view an episode of Mad Men and learn through observation, watching the characters make the same mistakes episode after episode? Here are some rules of proper internship behavior I learned from Mad Men.
No vodka shots.
Sorry guys, just because Don Draper seemingly reaches for hard liquor every five minutes doesn’t mean you can, too. Drinks after hours are OK — in fact, it is a great atmosphere to network with your co-workers, sharing with them your dream job and plans for the future.
But remember to limit yourself to one glass of wine or bottle of beer –- nothing that will get you drunk. Getting inebriated during happy hour makes you look clumsy and irritating. If you’re under 21, do not even risk getting caught with your fake ID. That is just plain embarrassing.
Don’t gossip during business lunches.
At business lunches, Don always drives away clients with his stubborn attitude and inappropriate remarks. It’s a no brainer that you should not insult your boss. Less obvious, though: You should not gossip about other co-workers, especially to your boss. It’s just unprofessional.
While on a business lunch, it’s best not to bring up problems and instead focus the conversation toward you and your aspirations. Follow Joan’s lead when she met with a marketing executive at Avon — she prepared for the meeting and took advantage of the opportunity to acquire a new client.
Have at least 10 questions ready to ask your boss, share your career goals and convey what you hope to achieve during the internship. Don’t forget to bring your notebook to write down important networking information.
Have a “carefrontation” instead of a confrontation.
After spending a day at the Sterling Cooper & Partners ad agency, it is common to see secretaries crying in the bathroom or ad men yelling to demand respect and power, then purge in liquor and drugs. Rather than getting angry with your boss for giving you grunt work, why don’t you try “carefrontation”?
Avoid the drama by approaching the situation with empathy. Indicate your enthusiasm for a project and your desire to execute the company’s mission in any way you can. If other interns are not picking up the slack, indicate that their input is very important. Say that they have great ideas and that you wish you heard more of them.
Avoid office relationships.
Office relationships are controversial, whether it is with a permanent employee or with another intern. When Don met his second wife, Megan, she was his secretary and was promoted to copy editor soon after they started dating. The other copywriters felt they were treated unfairly because Megan was given extra perks since she was sleeping with the boss.
Avoid office relationships to dodge any sticky situations you might be caught in. If you are still interested in dating, it is best to wait until after the internship is over to pursue a relationship and avoid a conflict of interest.
If all else fails, go to your human resources representative with internship questions. They are professionals who can coach you on how to deal with fuzzy situations and can act as a mediator in office-related conflicts. Remember: Always keep it professional, and avoid a Don Draper outburst.
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