There are certainly enough questions that flood our minds come day one of our internship at “fill-in-name-of-prestigious-company-here” (the first undoubtedly being what to wear). Others might involve how much cushion time you need for your very first commute, what makeup fix-ups you should throw into your bag and whether or not you’ll make it all day in those wedges, or should you bring a pair of flats just in case? While these are important questions to ponder before we actually get to the office, several more hit us in the face when we walk through that glass door. We get thrown into an office environment that’s been established long before our arrival, and it can feel overwhelming as we try to get a sense of how things work. To help make things a little bit clearer, communication with your boss or supervisor can really help. And to help you to not forget just what questions you should bring up on your very first day, Her Campus has composed a cheat-sheet list that is sure to take the guesswork out of being the new intern on the block.
Before You Start
1. What time do you usually get to the office?
2. What is the dress code?
3. Will I have a computer/desk or do I need to bring my laptop?
4. How do employees go about eating lunch? Should I bring my own lunch or will I have a break to get something?
5. Do I need to bring anything other than a notebook, pens, wallet/ID and phone?
6. Are there any programs I should already be familiar with before I start?
On the First Day
7. Who should I come to if I have questions? What are some helpful tasks I can do if I’ve finished working on an assignment/project?
8. What tasks would you like to see me accomplish during this internship? Is there a particular project I should be working on consistently, or will you have tasks for me to complete daily/weekly?
9. What can I do to make your job easier?
10. Would you prefer it if I approached you with questions in person or via e-mail?
11. What are your company’s main goals for the summer? Is there anything that your company is continually working on that I should take part in (like some kind of research)?
12. Can I get a tour of the office? What main restaurants/stores/establishments are in the neighborhood that you and your coworkers frequent (for work-related tasks)?
13. Can you teach me how to use “x” program?
14. Could you introduce me to the members of your department? Are there any other interns or employees that I’ll be working closely with?
15. Do you take coffee breaks? Is it ever okay for me to step out for a few minutes?
16. What’s the policy if I have a doctor’s appointment or other mandatory obligation?
While you might be concerned about being a respectful, under-the-radar type of intern so as not to step on anyone’s toes, you’re not offending anyone by asking these questions. They’re things that you, as an intern, deserve to know and need to know in order to do your job most effectively. Heather Huhman, founder and president of Come Recommended and author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle, recommends that “interns pay close attention to each bit of information that is shared with them. I always recommend bringing a notepad to jot down notes for later, particularly names and titles as those can be overwhelming at first. It's also a good idea to read through any material you can; you probably received an information packet or employee handbook at orientation, so take the time to look through each section. And don't forget to utilize your co-workers! They were all in your shoes at one time or another and will likely be happy to help you navigate your first few days as an intern.”
Be sure to cover all of your bases—some more questions might stem from these, depending on what type of internship you’re starting—so you’re not left hanging with nothing to do, or forgotten about and sitting around starving the entire day. Still, be careful not to bombard your boss on the first day; avoid exhausting him/her with a laundry list of questions. Casually insert them into introductory conversation and rest assured that some of your questions will be answered automatically as well. Don’t silence yourself until you’re satisfied with enough answers that make your tasks and goals as an intern completely do-able and clear… even if those uncomfortable, blister-inducing platforms weren’t the answer to the “what to wear question”—perhaps the most important one of them all!