Ah, internships. A mini preview into, potentially, the rest of your life. After countless hours preparing for interviews, stressing out about what to wear, and networking like it’s your, well, job, you’re finally sitting at that cubicle you’ve dreamed of. But like mom, dad, and every other adult has ever told you, first impressions count – not just for those you meet, but for yourself. Here’s how to start your internship off on the most positive note possible.
1. Be prepared for anything that comes your way.
It’s important to be open minded, excited, happy, and even a little wide-eyed during your first couple of days. You want to make sure that you come off as someone who is really looking forward to working at your company, making all the coworkers eager to help you as you go. By putting a positive attitude in your head and a smile on your face, you will also make yourself feel better about everything there is to come. Even if you have a cubicle with no windows and there’s not a clean microwave in the break room, take everything lightly and remind yourself that you worked hard to get to day 1, and you won’t let anything bring you down.
2. Get to know your boss right away.
It’s your very first day, you have your smile on, you go to introduce yourself to your boss and shake his/her hand, and… they apparently do not feel the same excitement as you. You get the hand as they continue on with their important call, or get shooed away to set up a different time to meet. “But…I’m here to work for you!” you may think. However, your bosses are extremely busy people, and interns are not often immediate on their radar. No matter what, you should continue taking initiative by setting up meeting requests on their calendar. Go in prepared with goals, questions, knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses, and take charge of the meeting. No boss wants to meet a wimpy college student who is content with scrolling through meaningless spreadsheets.
3. Make your work space you.
It’s not your dorm room, so you can’t bring all your picture frames, candles, lotions, perfumes, and makeup with you; but you need to feel comfortable where you are working. Make sure your space is most conducive to work, however you define that. Find out if your coworkers are okay with you silently jamming out to music, and bring your favorite stationery to bring you to your happy place. A happy intern is a productive intern.
4. Brush up on your tech skills.
You may immediately get 5 projects thrown at you the day you start your internship and you’ll instantly forget what Pivot Tables, project plans, or even your email password are. Working is a huge chunk of your day, but practicing and researching those skills you learned in school (or brand new tools) on your own time at home will set you miles ahead and make you seem very confident. It’s not only what you know, but knowing how to Google it if you don’t.
5. Talk to people.
Honestly, I think “intern” is the coolest and most powerful title (besides CEO) that you can have. Take advantage of it as soon as you start your internship! As an intern, you can ask anyone to hang out with you and to share advice with you over lunch and they will be instantly flattered that a cool, hip college student actually wants to get to know them and their wisdom. It’s incredibly important to grab lunch, coffee, or just chat with the people you work with, because their career paths have probably had a lot of great (or not-so-great) experiences to learn from. People are always willing to help aspiring younger professionals and mentor them, whether it’s with your new assignment or your life doubts. Get to know everyone and it will always pay off.
There are an endless number of tips to start your internship off right, but as I have started mine this summer, these are ones that truly stood out to me. To my fellow interns, congrats, but this is just the beginning, so make it count!