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What to Expect on the First Day of Your Summer Internship

Posted May 27 2013 - 2:00pm
Tagged With: summer

So today is the very first day of your summer internship and you have no idea what on Gosling’s green earth to expect. You wake up an hour early. You triple spray the last hair in place in your classic-yet-not-conservative French chignon, with the subtle-not-Snooki backcombing on the crown. You breakfast like a total champion on half a kale smoothie and a double egg-white omelette, punctuating bites with sun salutations on the back deck to invoke ultimate calm and centeredness on the big day. You press “play” on the pre-prepared iTunes playlist you DJ’d for this morning—all Madonna and throwback Destiny’s Child: girl power jams, you know the deal. And then at the instruction of Beyoncé to throw your hands up at her if you’re an independent woman, you raise both arms for good measure, grab your keys and bag, and run out the door to meet the proverbial first day head-on, hands up, and shoulders back.

But waitwaitwait, hold on a second: what are you doing, what is going on here, why did you sign up for this again, and what, what, what should you be expecting?!

Calm down, working girl. While you practice brewing a decent cup of coffee—(believe us, the cliché will prove true at least once this summer)—let Her Campus guide you through what to expect on the first day of your summer internship.

8:30 a.m.

What to bring

1. Wallet
Okay, so this is super obvious. We hope you pretty much bring your wallet with you everywhere in this day and age except perhaps the Jell-O wrestling ring, which frankly, is a place you shouldn’t be anyway, with wallet or without. On the first day, make sure to bring your drivers license, SIN card, credit card, and about $20 cash for lunch or other nominal fees like parking if you’re driving yourself to work in the morning.

devil wears prada

2. Notebook
Remember that scene in The Devil Wears Prada where Meryl Streep tells Anne Hathaway to fetch 10-or-15 skirts from Calvin Klein, and to make sure they have Pier 59 at 8 a.m. the next day, and to remind Jocelyn of those satchels that Marc is doing in the Pony, and oh, by the way, did Demarchelier confirm? Bring a notebook! It’ll be your back-up memory.

3. (More than one) pen
Bring your own pen. In fact, bring more than one lest the first one stop working and you have to resort to signing your name on some official document in an eyebrow pencil you just dug from the bottom of your purse. Not profesh.

4. A water bottle
Staying hydrated is a central component to mental agility and performance, two key elements to a successful first day on the job. Form the habit early and bring a water bottle to your internship on the first day.

5. Energy bar
Interning is a high-energy job. There are always going to be a million things to be completed five minutes ago, and packing an energy bar in your bag in the morning will save you in the emergency of a mid-afternoon (or mid-morning for that matter) energy slump. Don’t be the girl guzzling a vending machine energy drink at 10 a.m. Consider packing your own lunch if you don’t want to buy it, or if there isn’t food to purchase at your workplace.

What to wear

closet what to wear

Regardless of where you’re interning, whether it be House and Home magazine, or the White House, itself, your first day outfit should be the picture of professionalism. It’s better to overdo your look than underdo it on the first day and arrive underdressed.

Hannah, an incoming sophomore at NYU, went for an all black look on the first day of her internship at Seventeen magazine last semester. “Although Seventeen has a pretty liberal dress code, all the interns (myself included) were dressed head to toe in black, complete with blazers. It’s definitely better to be safe than sorry on your first day.”

That being said, Daisy, an editorial intern at a Canadian fashion magazine, proves that you don’t need to sacrifice on style, either, as long as you don’t stray into the ostentatious. “The first day I erred on the side of formality with a matte nude-colored silky blouse and a very prim charcoal pencil skirt, black suede heels and a neon green skinny belt.”

Inquire as to the dress code before leaving work your first day, as opposed to just following the lead of everyone else in your workplace. In certain instances, interns may be expected to adhere to a different dress code than the rest of the office so as to be identifiable.

And don’t think you’ve got it easy just because your internship requires a uniform! A uniform exists to be worn exactly as it is. This is not the opportunity to get Catholic-school-girl-liberal with your plaid skirt and roll the waistband a few times because you’re “expressing yourself.”

9:45 a.m.


Regardless of the hour you’ve been asked to arrive, the first day calls for a 15-minute arrival window. It’s a hundred times better to wait around for a few minutes your first day than risk keeping someone else waiting.

Hannah found that the time spent waiting beforehand can allow you to settle in a bit before kicking off what is sure to be a frenzied day. “I arrived a few minutes early and waited in the lobby while the security guard called my supervisor to let me in. A ton of interns were all starting on the same day, so we chatted in the lobby about which magazine we were assigned to and which editor we would be working with. It was a great way to meet the people I would be working alongside for the next few months!”

Find out ahead of time all the logistics of your arrival like which door to enter through and who you should expect to fetch you from the lobby, to combat the uncertainties of first day jitters.


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