If you’re starting an internship this summer it’s important to make a good impression on your first day. Start the internship as you mean to go on, with an early night with plenty of sleep, and eat a good breakfast in the morning.
Our 9 things to do before you start your internship blog can help you with getting ready ahead of time, such as deciding what you need to wear and how you are going to get there. Once you’re in the office, here are a few things to get you through your first day:
1. Understand the rules
Most companies have a language etiquette they follow, such as answering the phone with a specific greeting and using a particular e-mail signature. On your first day ask your line manager about what these might be, as well as whether you can speak to people outside the company during the day. Work out who you need to contact if you are delayed in getting to work or need to take a day off sick, and double-check the hours you are expected to work and whether your lunch break needs to be taken at a particular time.
2. Ask questions
Especially at the beginning of your internship don’t be afraid to ask questions to help you understand your roles and responsibilities as an intern. You’ll learn a million new things on your first day, and over your first week, and it’s ok to ask people to slow down or repeat something. Asking questions shows that you're willing to learn and have a genuine interest in the job and company, and it’s much better to learn how to do things properly than redoing things because you didn’t understand the instructions.
3. Goals and guidelines
If possible, ask your boss whether you could spend half an hour on your first day to help you understand your job role and responsibilities, go through what you are hoping to learn in your internship and what your boss is hoping that you're going to accomplish. Knowing this means that you can monitor your own progress across your internship and never have to question what is expected of you.
You should also ask your line manager how much he or she wants you to check in with them (every day, once a week, any particular time of day), how you should communicate with one another (come to their office, telephone, e-mail) and who’s next in line to contact if he or she isn’t there and you need help.
4. Use your lunchtime wisely
Spend your first-day lunch break talking to other employees, showing your boss that you are interested in the company as a whole, and not just your own tasks. Talking to others also helps you understand what the company ethos is like and what makes the individuals tick within it. You might just make a few friends along the way as well!
There might also be other interns starting their first days with you, and lunch may be an ideal moment to get to know them. Showing off your social side as well as how well you interact with others will do wonders for you, as employees will ask to work with you.
If you are unsure about the lunch situation before you arrive, bring either a packed lunch or some money to pick something up. Having seen what others do, you can then plan your lunch accordingly, and if you’ve errands to run you can take time out for yourself.
5. Take notes
On the first day, you’ll be exposed to a multitude of new names (and faces), work processes and instructions, all of which are hard to remember. Note-taking will help you remember the important details about your job and also shows the company that you are interested and serious about their work. Have a pen and paper with you, and jot down anything you think might be important or you might forget, and others will notice that you’re paying attention and processing information. You might even want a dedicated internship notebook so you can review something at any minute.
If you’re seen to be engaged from day one, your line manager will see you’re dedicated to your position and will be more likely to give you bigger responsibilities later on.
6. Keep it positive
Alongside the first day of your internship, you’ll find nerves, surprises and maybe some boring tasks, and it’s important to stay positive and enthusiastic, no matter what you’re doing. Be patient and remember that all jobs have admin and boring tasks alongside them, and the company can’t throw you in at the deep end on your first day!
Check and re-check tasks that you have been assigned to do, and if you find yourself twiddling your thumbs don’t wait until you're assigned something else, but ask whether there’s is something else you could be getting on with.
Showing your willingness to learn and participating shows that you are dedicated to performing to the best of your abilities throughout your internship and they will be more willing to give you independent tasks further down the line.
Make sure your colleagues know where you are, for example, whether you are in a meeting or out for lunch. Saying goodbye lets people know that you are leaving, but before you do leave check-in with your line manager to say that you are getting ready to leave and ask whether there is anything that needs to be done urgently. If you do need to complete a small task before you leave, do it well and don’t rush through it. Once you’re done, tell your manager and colleagues to have a good night and you’ll see them in the morning.