Published on May 12, 2015

7 phrases you need to excel at your internship abroad

How you express yourself plays an important role in how you are perceived. It can be as important as how you dress and even affect how people view the quality of your work. The following are a few useful work phrases that exemplify a respectful, professional attitude.


useful work phrases


1. Instead of “I don’t know” say “Let me take another look and I'll get back to you".

If someone asks your opinion or a question and you're not sure how to answer, it's best to ask for some time to investigate and provide your answer later. It will show initiative, that you care enough to figure things out on your own.


2. Instead of “Am I doing this right?” say “Could you take a look at this when you have a moment to make sure I'm on the right track?"

Your boss or coworkers have their own to-do list to get through, so don't assume they can drop everything and check your work whenever you want. If you aren't sure if you're doing something right, ask if there's a time later convenient for your supervisor to give your work a quick look.


3. Instead of “Can I go home?” say “Is there anything else you want me to get done today before I head out?”

If you're unsure whether or not you can head home, ask your boss if there's any work left to be done. It demonstrates that your not just committed to your schedule, but to your work and your boss.


useful work phrases


4. Instead of “What do I do now?” say "Which of these tasks is a priority?"

The second question is more specific and will help you better organize your work day.


5. Instead of “I don’t understand.” say “I have some follow-up questions. When would be a good time to talk?”

It's important to communicate to your boss when something isn't clear. However, it's more respectful to ask them when would be the best to time for them to talk.


useful work phrases


6. OR ..."Could you quickly clarify something for me?"

Now, if it's just a small, simple question, ask quickly right there starting with that phrase... could you clarify something for me. It's a way of getting to the point quickly so your question can be answered and everyone can get on with their day.


7. Instead of “Can I wear this to work?” say “Would it be appropriate for me to wear this to work?”

You're probably not really asking your boss if you are able to wear something to work. What you want to know is if it is within the established office dress code, which all employees and interns must respect.


Photo 1. based on Tapping a Pencil, by Rennett Stowe, CC-by-2.0

Photo 2. based on Veterans Tribute Career Technical Academy, by US Department of Education, CC-by-2.0

Photo 3. based on Justine the Intern, by Andrew Hitchcock, CC-by-2.0

The author
Elizabeth Trovall
After short stints in Argentina and Belize, Elizabeth is finishing up her third year in Santiago, Chile. Elizabeth writes about international internships, life abroad and professional development for The Intern Group. She also reports on politics, business and culture in Latin America for public radio and print media. An Austin, Texas native, Elizabeth first left home to earn her journalism degree from the Reynolds Institute of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Besides her friends and family, she misses live music and Mexican food the most.

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