28 March 2009

Language at the Internship: Yes, m'am

Yes, m'am. Yes, sir. No, m'am. No, sir.

Do those phrases pop out of your mouth when you speak with professors on campus? The language of campus and classroom is often formal and respectful. Will it be the same at your internship site? Not necessarily.

You may be accustomed to using formal conventions with your elders but in many workplaces that is not the custom. You may be asked to call everyone by first name, and you may not hear a ma'am uttered.

To understand the language customs of a new internship site, you can either ask or observe. Of course, you can comfortably start out with a formal tone, using titles such as Ms. and Mr. If staff members then ask that you use their first names, immediately do so. (They wouldn't suggest it unless they meant it.)

The content on this blog is not offered as legal advice or guidance. Consult your college, advisor, or internship supervisor for help with issues surrounding internships. © 2009 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Dr. Bold is a co-author of the book Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. More about Dr. Bold can be learned at www.marybold.com

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