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It’s the first day of your summer job or internship. You grab your purse, phone, wallet and keys, and head out the door ready to take on the world. You’re totally prepared for anything and everything the workday has to offer, right? Wrong!
For the working woman, there is a bit more to a work bag than meets the eye (or in this case, arm). You would never leave home without your bag, so why leave without the essential items every work bag requires? While we don’t suggest that you carry every personal possession you own, like Mary Poppins or Hermione Granger, a quick survey of your current purse situation will probably leave you less than impressed. So you are always ready to be the Olivia Pope of your workplace, make sure you never leave home without these 15 necessities!
1. Pain reliever
Focusing at work can sometimes be hard enough without the added stress of a headache. A bottle of aspirin will banish your headache (or cramps), and let you get back to what you need to do.
2. Hair tools
Whether your Pinterest up-do is falling out or you start having the worst midday hair crisis of your life, hair accessories like bobby pins and hair ties are musts. A beauty disaster is totally not professional.
Related: The Internship Beauty Rules You Need to Know
3. Feminine products
If you have ever gotten your period and been stranded without provisions, then you probably vowed to never let that happen to you again. Without a couple of tampons or pads in your bag, you are practically asking Mother Nature to hand you her monthly gift at the most inconvenient time. Never let your period surprise you at work again, and always keep a few feminine products on hand.
4. Notepad and pen
The best employees and interns are always ready to take on any task at a moment’s notice. Sometimes these to-dos are lengthy or involve a lot of details. Being able to pull out a notepad and pen will not only show your employer that you are on top of things, but it will guarantee that you get the job done correctly.
5. Breath mints or gum
It’s always a good idea to have breath mints or gum—especially for those days when you decide to have a burrito with extra peppers and onions for lunch, or if you just want to make sure you don’t have bad breath when your boss calls you in for a meeting (because they always seem to do so at the absolute worst moment).
No one likes you when you’re hangry. Your roommate might be able to deal with your pre-lunch shenanigans, but your boss might not be so accommodating. Keep yourself energized and your hunger in check with a healthy, easy snack like an apple or granola bar.
Related: 5 Easy Sandwiches to Take to Work
8. Tide To Go
A Starbucks run always sounds like a great idea until your grande chai tea latte is all over the front of your white dress and you’re five minutes from work. This little pen will go a long way. Just because your bank account might suffer from all those coffee runs, it doesn’t mean your outfit should too.
9. Phone charger
Need we explain? We all know that there is nothing worse than being at 12 percent by noon. Make sure that your phone isn’t ready to clock out before you are.
10. Laptop or tablet
Whether you prefer a laptop, iPad or tablet, always make sure that you have a device that allows you to get your work done in the office or on-the-go (or get a quick episode of Orange is the New Black in during your lunch break).
11. Nail polish
Every polish lover knows that toenail polish can last through an apocalypse while fingernail polish is likely to fall off if you even look at it the wrong way. If you carry a bottle of your current nail polish color in your bag, you’ll never get caught looking unpolished.
12. Business cards
You never know who you’ll meet, whether you are in a staff meeting or running errands for your boss. That’s why it is crucial for every aspiring career woman to have business cards on hand to let anyone and everyone know how fabulous and professional you are.
Related: 8 Next-Level Things All Great Interns Do
No matter how much you love heels, even the most comfortable ones have the potential to turn into weapons of mass destruction. You never know when your boss is going to ask you to trek across town or attend a low-key event after work. Whatever situation arises, take comfort in the fact that you have a less painful (but hopefully equally as cute) back-up plan.
14. Mini umbrella
As cute as getting caught in the rain looks in movies, it is unfortunately not as amusing in real life. No one wants to carry around a giant umbrella when there is only a 20 percent chance of rain, but rain is always more likely when you’re having a good hair day, right? A mini umbrella is the perfect bottom of the bag necessity to keep you dry regardless of the predicted forecast.
15. At least $20 (in cash)
When you have a wallet full of plastic it can be easy to forget that it’s never a bad idea to have some paper in there too. You don’t have to carry around wads of cash, but keeping $20 in your bag at all times ensures that you will never be stuck in a sticky situation without a cash buffer. Whether your credit card is maxed out or you just want to make splitting a bill with co-workers easier, a little cash will go a long way.
You can carry a big or small bag, a designer bag or your old favorite tote; what the bag looks like on the outside really doesn’t matter. What matters is that the inside contains everything you need to conquer any situation that comes your way during the workday.