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I don’t know about you, but I am never fully prepared to start something new, especially a new job. A newbie to the professional world myself, here are a few tips to help prepare you for your first internship.
1. Scout out the location
If you’re unfamiliar with your territory, find a day before your first official day of work to familiarize yourself with the directions and location of your internship. Not only will you be more confident navigating that first day, but you’ll also have the opportunity to explore the eateries or stores at which you will be spending your lunch breaks or down-time. You’ll be spending a lot of time here, so make sure that surrounding environment becomes a comfortable community.
2. Be punctual
While still an unfamiliar territory to me, punctuality is extremely vital in the professional world. If you’re an eternal procrastinator such as myself, you can never plan to arrive too early for work. Even on what seem like your good days, traffic jams, random weather hazards, wardrobe mishaps, flat tires and slow alarm clocks will get the best of you when you least expect it. Always plan to arrive as if you start work 20 minutes earlier than you do. If you happen to get there on time, find a nearby coffee shop or make connections with the other early birds in the office. You’ll soon settle into a regular pattern where you know you’ll arrive at a comfortable time.
3. Add to group dynamic
Whether you are outgoing or shy, find a way to add to the group dynamic of your staff in a positive way. Sometimes, this means you might have to curb your outspoken nature or talk a little bit more or a tad louder than you’re used to at staff meetings. Everybody is trying to make themselves stand out, so be creative in the way you choose to. If there’s a snack table, bring in homemade treats, or grab some donuts at the store in the morning to share. Don’t overkill with these gestures and make a statement like this maybe once or twice throughout your time as an intern. Your wallet will probably stop you from going overboard more than anything else. Personalized actions like greeting people every morning and saying goodbye at the end of the day are nice touches as well.
4. Know everybody makes mistakes
Realize that making mistakes is natural so get as many out of the way at the start. Interns aren’t expected to know everything, but they are expected to learn as they go. You learn by not only being inquisitive, but by actually doing. Be honest with your supervisor if you feel inadequate in an area, but always reaffirm that you are ready and willing to learn and improve upon whatever action that is. You were handpicked and hired as an intern for a reason, so be confident that you have all the skills, personality and qualities the company is looking for. All you have to do now is just bring them to the forefront.
5. Know what’s up
Some other major do’s and don’ts are following the dress code, knowing protocol and being familiar with who’s who in the offices. There’s nothing worse than forgetting your boss’s name or not knowing if sandals are appropriate in the workplace. These are basic, yet crucial actions to follow through on, so don’t be afraid to look for a directory or carry around an office handbook. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
6. As always, have fun.
Not only were you chosen for a reason, but you chose to accept that internship for a reason. Whether it’s your wildest day job dream come true, or it helped you realize that type of work isn’t for you, bond with your co-workers over humorous struggles, network with the higher-ups in the industry, and live this experience out to its fullest potential.