Starting a new internship can be stressful. What to wear? Who to talk to at lunch? How to make a good impression?
Worrying about whether or not your boss will hate you for no reason is ultimately useless, though. Instead, focus on the things you can do to come to your internship feeling as comfortable as possible.
Entering an unknown workplace environment may seem like something out of your control, but there are a few easy steps to preparing the best you can.
1. Do Your Research
Hopefully, you did some research before picking the internship. Now is the time to start reviewing your notes. Read over the company’s website, find articles written about them, lightly stalk your boss’s LinkedIn.
Make sure you are following the company’s social media accounts to see what they are up to and to demonstrate interest. Having a strong sense of the organization you will be working for helps you come across as knowledgeable and engaged.
2. Revamp That Business Casual Wardrobe
Gone are the days where you can wear sweatpants to class. Now is the time to start filling your closet with some slacks, cardigans and other business casual clothes.
Make sure you know the dress code of your workplace. If the dress code is business professional, stock up on a nice business suit, ties and some sharp shoes. If the dress code is business casual, you should be fine with a less formal blouse or shirt.
One unfortunate thing is that nice work clothes tend to be pretty expensive when brought brand-new, but work around it! Go to Goodwill or another second-hand store and see if you can find a new clean wardrobe for a third of the price.
3. Stock Up on Pens
Making sure you have all the necessary supplies before starting your internship seems like a small step, but will take a lot of stress off your shoulders.
Gather up some pencils, pens, a notebook, your laptop and maybe some mint gum, and you will be ready to take on (nearly) anything.
4. Talk Yourself Up
Likely your bosses are very busy and have probably forgotten the details of your life that you talked about in your interview or your resume. Do not panic when you are asked what school you go to or what you are studying. Just be prepared with a few points of conversation about yourself so that you won’t feel flustered.
You may get asked questions about what you are interested in and what your learning goals are—think these through and make sure they are realistic. As with any good conversation, make sure to also ask (professional) questions about your co-workers.
5. Practice Your Route
If you have not been to the office of your internship before, try the commute a few days ahead of time. See how long weekday traffic takes and make sure you know where you are going, so that you know exactly how much time you need on the first day (and also so you don’t get hopelessly lost).
6. Refresh Your Online Presence
Photos of you and your grandma’s cat are a go. Photos of you and your beer cans might be a no. You’d be surprised how many bizarre and wild photos of yourself can circulate through Facebook and Instagram at one time. Your coworkers will likely want to reach out to you through social media, so consider cleaning up your profiles a little to make a good impression.
7. Go Back to (Technology) Basics
I think that I am much better at Excel than I am in reality. Take a half hour off from binge-watching Netflix in the evening to refresh your Excel, Word, PowerPoint and other technological programming skills.
Watch a YouTube tutorial to figure out how to enter random equations so your boss won’t have to watch you struggle on the computer. The extra effort may seem pedantic, but will give you a confidence boost in your skillset.
8. Calm Down
The first day of a new internship is much like the first day of high school or college—slightly overwhelming and reliant on a good impression. Take a deep breath.
Your first day is an opportunity to show you are ready to learn and to start observing how you will fit into the office. Learn names, figure out where the bathroom is and talk with your boss to figure out the big projects you will be working on.
Although new beginnings can be scary, remember that you got this internship for a reason. You are qualified and prepared for more than you think, so remind yourself of your worth and get ready to jump into some hard work!