5 Ways to Impress On the First Day of Your Spring Internship

First days are always a little bit rough. Forget about the jitters that come with having to introduce yourself to a classroom full of people, making a good impression on the first day of a professional experience can be even more anxiety-inducing. Sometimes it’s hard to know what kind of social setting you’re walking into. Whether an internship or a part-time job, each office has its own particular vibe and social code that takes time to learn and become accustomed to. So, first and foremost, don’t beat yourself up if the first day doesn’t go exactly as planned. But there are some things you can do ahead of time to prepare. These five tips will hopefully help settle your stomach and make you feel more equipped to handle whatever is waiting for you on the other side of that intimidating office door.  

1.) Plan your outfit ahead of time, and dress to impress.

This may seem like a given, but just as it’s hard to tell what an office will be like socially, it’s hard to tell what the dress code will be like too. It seems like each office I walk into these days are becoming more and more casual, jeans and t-shirts are a go-to and sometimes even leisurewear becoming acceptable. Most internship coordinators will tell you their office is business casual. But what exactly does that mean? There’s not really a way to know for sure what the dress code will be like until you get there, so play it safe for the first day. Wear nice pants or slacks, or even a dress or skirt if you like, and a blouse or collared shirt. Wear shoes that fit the attire (flats or booties), just make sure their decently comfortable. You never know what errands you might be sent on; they could require a lot of walking.

2.) Make a genuine attempt to make conversation and ask questions.

The most uncomfortable situation for a higher-up is to have to struggle trying to make conversation with a newcomer. They know this is already a stressful situation for you, so they’re going to try their best to make you as comfortable as possible. Do your best to make it a little easier for them, too. Do some prep the night before and come up with questions about the internship or program. They are definitely going to ask if you have any questions, and most people say no because it’s hard to come up with something on the spot. But if you already have some questions ruminating, they’ll be delighted and impressed to see you were listening closely enough to be able to formulate some inquiries.

3.) Introduce yourself to the other interns or staff.

If you’re lucky, whoever is showing you around the office might do this for you. But, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes offices are just so big that a higher up isn’t going to take the time to introduce you to everyone. You don’t need to meet everyone on the first day, but keep it in the back of your mind that you want as many people as possible to know your name. If there are other interns, make an effort to get to know them, too. They will most likely be your support system during this experience. If you ever have any questions that seem too small to ask your boss about, they’re your best resource. They may also be a connection you can lean on later on in your career as well.

4.) Pack yourself a lunch, or at least a snack.

You’re going to need to eat and fuel that brilliant brain of yours. If you’re in for a full day, or even just a half day, bring a light lunch or a snack. Since it’s your first day, you might not know the area very well and you don’t want to take forever trying to find an affordable place to get lunch. This is especially important if you have any allergies or dietary restrictions. Don’t feel weird about eating at your desk, it’ll look good that you’re committed enough to have a working lunch. Once some time has passed and you’ve settled in, don’t be afraid to fully utilize your one-hour or half-hour break. You’ll deserve it, especially if the position is unpaid.

5.) Study up on the place you’ll be working at.

I cannot stress this enough, but do your research! The best way to impress the people you’re working with is to come in with a baseline of knowledge about the company or publication. If it’s a publication, look them up on the SRDS (Standard Research and Data Service). It’ll tell you the publication circulation, their audience demographics, and even some staff members and their positions. Otherwise, check out the company’s website and just do a google search. Look at the reviews of the internship on sites like Handshake, Indeed, and Glassdoor. You never know what you’ll find that might become useful.

Overall, be confident and be yourself. Trust that you are prepared and capable of doing the job they hired you to do. Good luck!