You have been working on your resume and cover letter for what seems like forever and you have finally perfected the “brag about yourself without sounding too conceited” (or maybe your Mom or Dad made a call that got you in the door) but here you are: about to start your dream internship! You’ve landed the job and are taking your first steps into the working world, so remember: first impression is everything. We hear it all the time, but that’s because it’s true. Here are some essential tips to help you make a great first impression and how to leave a good reputation at your internship. Can you say ‘Intern of the Month?’
Essentials to Making a Great First Impression:
1. Do Your Research
While it might be your first rodeo, it’s never good to be completely lost when starting something new. Before your first day, do your research! Look up basic information about the company and what they do. This is an easy step that is often ignored; Google can work wonders, ladies. In addition to knowing the background information of the company, research the “top dogs” at that location. Nothing would be worse than meeting the CEO of the company, not knowing who he or she is, and asking him or her where the bathroom is. Those simple steps will help you avoid that shitty situation…pun intended.
2. Dress to Impress
Make sure you dress for the job that you want. When your contact at the internship tells you the dress code, always go dressier,at least on your first day, and then you can get the feel of what to wear once you settle in. We all love us some Norts, but unless your internship coordinator specifically tells you to wear athletic shorts, keep them in the drawer.
If you are told to wear business-casual attire, look on the bright side: this is a prime opportunity to rock a blazer. Hint: search blazer on Pinterest and you are golden! My go-to store for internship attire is JCrew. Yes, it is more on the expensive side, but if you buy the basics, you’ll be able to use them forever. Plus, if you bring your college ID, you’ll get a discount on your purchase!
If you dress professionally, you are more likely to be taken seriously, and vice versa. If you dress like you rolled out of bed or like you are working the street corners (cough, no bandage skirts, cough), your co-workers are going to treat you that way.
3. Build Relationships
Interns are usually at the bottom of the food chain, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still make a name for yourself and build working relationships with your co-workers. Here are a few ways to network and become familiar with your fellow employees:
- Introduce yourself to everyone you meet. Make a point to shake their hand, and make it a good shake. You never know who you’ll run into again further down the road.
- Bring food. Businesspeople are just like the rest of us: they can be won over with food. A couple dozen donuts can work a lot of magic. Believe me, this worked for me last week!
- If you aren’t doing anything, ask for something to do. There is always something that needs to be done around the office. If you volunteer to do more things, you may get the chance to hold bigger responsibilities.
- Make friends with your co-workers. If you are friends with them, you won’t be intimidated to ask them questions. Let’s be real, we all need to know where the closest Chipotle is located. And, if you are away from home for the internship, they may be your only friends out there.
That being said, there is a fine line that cannot be crossed with your co-workers. For example, if one of these instances occur…
- "The Hot Guy in Sales”- So, yes, there are bound to be some attractive guys working at the office, but they are off limits. Hint: pretend they are all married. “Office flirt” is not the title you want to have. And, this should be obvious, but, DO NOT date your co-workers; that will only cause problems. Pam and Jim are an exception. You do not want to be the subject of the gossip at the water cooler.
- “Happy Hour”- There is a chance you could be invited to office parties…actually, let’s face it, Clemson girls are too fun to not get invited to the parties. You should definitely go because it is a great way to build relationships, however, be careful if alcohol is being served. If you are not twenty-one, do not drink. I repeat: DO NOT drink. They know how old you are and it could be a serious legal problem for the company. If you are twenty-one, limit yourself to two drinks. You do not want to be “frat party drunk” at the office happy hour; we are not at the Delta Chi foam party here, ladies; you are working, remember that.
“Social Media”- These days, most of us are obsessed with social media; Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, you name it, but use caution when mixing social media with work.
- Should you friend your co-workers? I would say no, at least not until you are finished your internship.
- Can you accept friend or follower requests from your co-workers? Yes, but only if your Facebook page and tweets don’t contain anything that could cause you to lose your job. It doesn’t hurt to put them on limited profile just to be on the safe side.
And a tip for all social media, DO NOT post, tweet, or blog about how much you hate your job…ever! There are cases of people who have gotten fired over the contents of their Twitter. If you really hate your internship, complain to your Mom.
The summer is winding down, you’ve applied all of these tips, and you’ve added a killer internship to your resume…that seems like a wrap, right? Nope. You are not done there. One of the most important things in the business world is networking. It’s all about who you know. You’ve made the employees love you- Who doesn’t love a Clemson girl?! and that is going to help you big time. Make sure to stay in contact with the people that you met through your internship. They could be how you get a job after graduation. Sending an email every once in a while could make a huge impact on your professional life.
Follow all of these tips and you are bound to be an office favorite!