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How to Rock the First Day At Your Internship

Sigh!Remember the first time you met your crush or beau? Whether it was in the office at your part-time job or in a literature class, our brains naturally “press save” during significant life moments. That’s why making excellent first impressions is so important. Be it romantic or professional, you’ll need to stay on your toes to make a positive mark in someone’s brain. At an internship, first impressions mean everything. Here, HC offers you some tips on how to make a great impression on the first day at your internship. Read on!
Practice Makes Perfect: Mastering Your Mode of Transportation
A great way to show how eager and hardworking you are is by showing up early on your first day. “You should be 15-20 minutes early on your first day, if not every day,” said Hofstra Career Center Director Fred Burke. “This shows that you’re engaged and ready to focus.”
To do so, practice your daily routine at least once before the big day. Though you aced the interview, you may still be a bit on shaky about your mode of transportation. Solution?  Use this tool to print out a set or two of directions, and then take a weekend to go through all of the steps. Be mindful that you should also have a backup plan in case something unordinary occurs. This HC writer almost had a meltdown when several nearby subway entrances were closed for police investigation one night, so be prepared!
Her Campus Editor-in-Chief Stephanie Kaplan did a practice run the summer she was a features intern for Seventeen: “The weekend before I started I did a dry run on the subway so I would know how to get there on the first day and not get lost.” Stephanie also found a nearby Starbucks where she could relax and touch up her makeup before stepping into the marvelous Hearst Tower.
Driving? Provide ample time for traffic and scope out the best parking spots. HC Contributing Writer and Brandeis student Emily Weisberger was an Editorial Intern at Body and Soul Magazine. “The first day of my internship everything that could possibly go wrong did! I left an hour early, but hit a major traffic jam. Then I couldn’t find parking, so I parked illegally and got a ticket!” Once you’ve nailed your routine, you’ll be ready to take on the day ahead.
Just Throw It in the Bag: What to Pack in Your Purse
I personally use a large black bag when interning. Guaranteed to match and fit anything, it’s a great go-to for a travel tote. Some necessities to pack:

  • Your supervisor’s contact information (store this in your cell)
  • Train, bus, and subway schedules
  • Granola bar
  • Gum
  • Notebook/Folder
  • Pens and pencils
  • A travel size deodorant/non-overwhelming fragrance
  • Ibuprofen
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Anything pertinent to your specific job title

Dress to Impress: What to Wear
Your actions will be remembered and so will your appearance. Exactly what to wear depends on the industry. Check out some of these tips for outfit ideas  But no matter where you’re interning, you ought to choose an ensemble that is professional and comfortable, so avoid clothes that are too short or revealing. High stilettos are also a no-no. Seventeen.com intern Jaclyn Pelopida said, “I was recently in the elevator with my supervisor when we noticed another intern wearing a skirt that was so short we could basically see everything.” Now that’s not how you impress!
“What you might wear out on the weekends does not belong in the office,” said Burke. Even if you’re interning at Harper’s Bazaar, wearing flats on your first day may be your best bet. Try these roll-able flats from Rollasole  on for size. Whichever outfit you do decide on, add a bit of flair like a thrift-store necklace or vintage handbag to show a hint of your style.
Spend Some Me Time: Pampering 101
You’ll want to be super confident on your first day, so make sure you look and feel great! Get plenty of rest and eat a healthy breakfast in the morning. Consider getting a new haircut/trim, grooming your eyebrows, and painting your nails and toenails in the hottest new O.P.I shade, to boost your confidence level. No one will be able to tell you’re an intern when you walk through those doors in the morning!
Express Yourself: How You Act
Facial expressions, speech, and body language play a big role in how you present yourself to your supervisor and office mates. Consider basic etiquette like having good posture, not rolling your eyes when given instructions and covering your mouth when you yawn, sneeze, or cough. You should also be mindful of any nervous habits like cracking your knuckles, biting your nails, or shaking your knee. These aren’t attractive qualities to present on your first day.
When it comes to speech, speak loudly and clearly, avoid slang, and never, ever, curse.
You don’t want to appear thoughtless and unprofessional! Michele Pollard Patrick, Director of National Protocol, Ltd. suggests that you also avoid correcting others in public, using unkind remarks, voicing too strong opinions, and constantly talking about yourself. When speaking to superiors, address them as “Ms.” or “Mr.” unless they give you permission to call them by their first name.
You should also never get caught social networking, texting, or conducting outside business while at your desk. Adelphi University junior Catherine Rotella interned at Fueled by Ramen, the home of bands like Panic! At the Disco and Cobra Starship. “I didn’t know what to expect on my first day but I went in with a smile, ready to learn and help as much as I could,” she said. “As an intern, you want to show that you’re interested and never want to look like you’re in your own world, shutting everyone out.”
More Words of Wisdom
Consider these tips and anecdotes from HC writers:
“Speak up! So many times you aren’t given a lot to do the first day; learn quickly how to ask for tasks to do so you seem like a hard and eager worker.” – Cara Sprunk
 “I can honestly say I think I have the worst first day story ever: I got trapped in an elevator. My advice: use the stairs! I climbed five stories every day from then on.” – Rachel Cieri
“Once I got to my internship I was sat down in front of a Mac computer and was given an assignment immediately. Having been a PC girl for all of my life, I didn’t even know how to get on the Internet! I wish I knew not to panic, that it’s okay to ask questions, and that everything totally gets better after day one.” – Emily Weisberger

With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to strut your way to an amazing first day at your internship. Get it, girl!
Fred Burke, Hofstra University Career Center Director
Michele Pollard Patrick, Director of National Protocol, Ltd
Catherine Rotella, Former Fueled by Ramen Intern
Stephanie Kaplan, Editor-in-Chief of HerCampus.com
Emily Weisberger, Brandeis University Senior and HC Contributing Writer
Jaclyn Pelopida, Seventeen.com Intern
Cara Sprunk, Managing Editor of HerCampus.com
Rachel Cieri, Elon University Senior and HC Contributing Writer


Gennifer is the Branded Content Specialist for Her Campus Media. In her role, she manages all sponsored content across platforms including editorial, social, and newsletters. As one of HC's first-ever writers, she previously wrote about career, college life, and more as a national writer during her time at Hofstra University. She also helped launch the How She Got There section, where she interviewed inspiring women in various industries. She lives in New York City.
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