We all know what time it is – summer internship season! A chance for all of us budding young professionals to really experience what it’s like in the “real world” and put our skills to the test. Yesterday was my first day at my new internship, and it was nerve-wracking to say the least. There was so much to see and learn and do that I felt seriously overwhelmed!
Even though the first day of a new job can be stressful, I made it through the day alive, and I know that you can too. Here are a few things I would recommend so that you have the best first day possible – and if you’ve had your first day already, make sure to leave your own tips in the comments section below.
1. Leave home early!
If your HR manager emailed you saying that you should be there at 9am, try to shoot for getting to your new job for 8:30am at the latest. Now this may sound like way too much time – after all, who wants to be the lonely girl twiddling her thumbs waiting for direction – but, it is always always better to be early than late.
This is simply a precautionary measure; for example, if you get stuck in a boatload of traffic (like I did this morning!) you will be prepared and have enough wiggle room to reach your workplace at the appropriate time. Because I aimed to be at my workplace for 8am instead of 8:30am as my manager requested, even though I happened to get caught in a lot of traffic, I was able to be present early and make a good impression.
2. Be prepared to be given a lot of information.
The first day of anything, whether that is school or a new job, will most likely provide you with an overflow of information. From getting around the building to understanding the etiquette and culture that are standard within your new space, there is a lot to learn, and you should be prepared to absorb all of it! You know the phrase “be a sponge”? Yeah, you should definitely be that.
Topics such as how you will be clocking in and out, important dates within your internship program, or the standard dress code for your department will likely be covered in your orientation, and you want to make sure you don’t miss any of it! Additionally, you will probably be told exactly what your role is as an intern, and that is for sure something that you don’t want to forget.
3. Introduce yourself to everyone. Yes, and I mean everyone.
It might not make much sense at first to introduce yourself to the security guard if you’re going to be working in a marketing role, but it is imperative that you try to be warm and courteous to everyone you meet. You are going to be seeing these people every day this summer, and as first impressions only happen once, it is a good idea to set a positive tone for a relationship with every single person that you come across, regardless of whether they are a fellow intern or a manager.
Smile, make eye contact, shake his/her hand, and introduce yourself – it might seem like basic knowledge right now, but that doesn’t make it any less important! You never know who you might meet, and you never know who you may be working with in the future.
Write down the name of each person that you meet and a little fact about them that you gathered from your interaction; this will help you keep each person in your memory, and this can also act as a running log of references later on.
4. Speaking of which, did I mention that you should write things down?
Designate a notebook and pen for your internship so that you will have a central place to write down every bit of important information that comes your way. Bring this literally everywhere you go – it will be a lifesaver!
Writing down key points that are covered during your orientations/meetings will ensure that nothing gets by you, and your notebook can then serve as reference material when you are unsure about something.
It’s also a good idea to get a running glossary going of key terms and acronyms that are used in your day-to-day environment – people that have been working somewhere for a long time tend to forget that these terms can be a little bit confusing to newbies, but keeping a glossary of everything will have you speaking like a pro in no time.
5. Ask all of the questions.
Sometimes it can be super embarrassing to be a newbie, because as the name suggests, everything is new, and you have lots of questions! Maintaining that your questions are appropriate, feel free to ask any and all of them throughout the course of your day. Even if it might seem dumb to you at first (Where is the bathroom? Is the coffee in front free? What was his name again?), keep in mind that this is an entirely brand-new space, and your managers & colleagues will be aware of that. It’s important to ask a lot of questions on your first day so that you are equipped with the necessary information to do your job properly, and it’s a great way to establish rapport with the people that you will be working with.
Plus, it is your first day, so most of these questions will be excused – from now on, however, they might not be, so take advantage of your newbie status!
The first day of a new job can feel super overwhelming, but don’t fret – there are so many resources that are available to help you succeed, and if you follow these tips, you are sure to have a killer first day.
Good luck – go do amazing things!
Are you starting an internship this summer? What tips do you have for the first day?