You've landed a summer internship in the Twin Cities. These simple tips will help you blend in and may just help you get asked to stay on.
Oh, lowly intern, it's time to get schooled.
You and your comrades have settled into cubicles throughout the Twin Cities for a summer of hard labor. Your seasoned and sometimes curmudgeonly colleagues think you're easy targets to poke fun at. Especially you out-of-towners who mispronounce words like "Wayzata" and "Nicollet."
But they also know how important this internship is to your budding career, and let's face it -- they need you. They're counting on you to bring your A-game so that they can skip out of work early and head Up North for the weekend.
Consider this your guide to surviving a summer internship in the Twin Cities.
What to wear
Because employers cite inappropriate dress as the biggest blunder of employees, let's start with your attire. You'll want to find a happy medium between the pajama pants you wore to your 8 a.m. psych class and the black suit you bought for all those internship interviews. (You're not going to a funeral. Just to the office.)
"It is summer in Minnesota, and people like to be comfortable, but my advice is to not take that too literally and be too casual," said Debbie Fischer, director of human resources for Campbell Mithun ad agency, which has 12 interns this summer. "You want to dress for the job you aspire to have."
If your company doesn't have a dress code in place, then you can safely assume the following: no tank tops, cutoff shorts or flip-flops. Sandals, however, are OK.
Interns for the DNR's Division of Parks and Trails don't have to decide (or pay for) their work attire. They wear uniforms. Still, said DNR interpretive operations coordinator Kathy Dummer, "we put lot of emphasis on wearing the uniform properly. That hot pink T-shirt you love, we don't want to see it peeking out from under your collar."
How to fit in
Now that you're dressing the part, you should start acting the part. This will eliminate the aforementioned teasing.
You may think you know something about acting Minnesotan because you saw "Fargo," but we are so much more than that.
Laura Romer, who left Austin, Texas, for an internship in Minneapolis, knew at least two things about Minnesotans: We have an "enthusiastic pronunciation of the letter O" and we're nice. But even she was surprised.
"It's almost overwhelming," the University of Texas at Austin graduate student said. "A woman holding a baby held the elevator door open for me and as I exited, she told me, 'Thank you.'"
Romer also heard that Minnesotans like to eat Jell-O.
Fact: We used to be big on Jell-O, but have since moved on to lutefisk, a fish that has a texture like Jell-O, but twice the flavor. Clearly, Romer needs to watch "Fargo" again.
The surest way to act like a Minnesotan is to talk like one. To learn the vital elements of conversational Minnesotan, such as, "You bet" and "OK, then," you could pick up the book "How to Talk Minnesotan." Or, you could just stare at your colleague's lips the first week and pay close attention to how they form their O's
They might be creeped out by this behavior, but don't worry. Chances are they're "Minnesota nice" (i.e., passive-aggressive) and won't say anything -- at least not to you.
If you want to choose a safer route, head to www.howcast.com and type "how to do a Minnesota accent." An expert offers a voice lesson using this phrase: "Oooh, geeez. I've known him fer 20 years er soooo."
Where to go
Networking outside of the workplace is equally important. That means you'll want to hit up plenty of happy hours. If you're socializing with colleagues, stick to a two-drink maximum. You don't want the nickname "Drunk Intern."
If you do happen to imbibe one too many, keep in mind that we are known for our biking, not our taxicabs. Don't have a bike? No problem. Check out the public bike-sharing system called Nice Ride Minnesota: www.niceridemn.org. Then again, it's probably best to call a friend or walk.
Since you're probably paid in peanuts, here are a few free or near-free entertainment options: free brewery tours at Summit and Surly with free beer samples. (Super Target and Costco often have free food samples on Saturdays, by the way.) "Too Much Love" dance night at First Avenue on Saturdays, with an admission of $3. Also $3, movies at Riverview Theater. Plus, Thursday nights are free at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and Walker Art Museum.
Welcome to the Twin Cities. We're glad you're here and hope you immerse yourself in our culture. Take a day trip to Lanesboro or, better yet, Darwin, Minn., to see the world's largest ball of twine.
Just remember, in addition to Jell-O, there are plenty of other things that Minnesotans love: lakes, farmers markets, the State Fair, dining al fresco.
Aimée Blanchette • 612-673-1715
Bill Ward contributed to this report.
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