First things first: congratulations! You got an internship! Don’t be nervous; they hired you because they want you and thought you were qualified enough to do a great job as part of their team.
With the beginning of the fall internship season, I figured that I would share the knowledge that I gained this summer. I worked as a Marketing Intern at a geotechnical and environmental engineering firm during the summer of 2014. Here are some of my best tips to help you through the first week!
- DRESS THE PART
When in doubt, overdress. For some companies, “business casual” means a pencil skirt and pumps, while in other environments it means jeans and a cute top. I’ve always heard that if you’re having a meeting with a man, wear a skirt, and if you’re having a meeting with a woman, wear pants. There are so many cute outfits on Pinterest from every type of dress that there’s no reason not to be looking your sharpest! H&M and Old Navy have some great options (pencil skirts and work pants for $25, cha-ching!). My office was super casual, but all these outfits are easily adaptable. Here are some of them:
Chambray shirt: Target, black circle skirt: H&M, pink sweater: Old Navy, periwinkle dress: Francesca’s, black crop jeggings: American Eagle, leopard sweater: H&M, white button down top: H&M, sandals: Tory Burch Miller, nude pencil skirt: H&M, sheet plaid top: Nordstroms, green top: Nordstroms, boots: Frye Melissa Button, jeggings: American Eagle, gold flats: Target, blue sweater: Old Navy, patterned top: H&M, white sweater: Old Navy, mint top: Nordstroms, nude flats: Old Navy, tan jacket: Zara, white top: Nordstroms, black business pants: Old Navy.]
- TAKE NOTES, MAKE LISTS and GET A PLANNER
Especially on your first day, take good, thorough notes. I made the mistake of not taking step-by-step notes that I would completely understand, thinking that some of it was common sense, and it wasn’t! It helps sooo much to have notes that you can understand and actually work off of. I’m an obsessive to-do list maker, and my Day-Timer helps me stay organized with my lists, my appointments, and my calendar.
[Pictured: Day-Timer Pink Ribbon Weekly/Monthly Planner, love it even more because it donates 5% to BCRF!! & the Lilly Pulitzer Planner in Peelin’ Out]
- ASK QUESTIONS
If someone tells you to do something and you have absolutely no idea how to do it, don’t just stand there, smile, nod and think that you’ll figure it out. There is no reason that you shouldn’t ask for clarification if you can’t figure it out yourself. If you’re working on something that needs immediate clarification, then ask it then, but if at all possible, compile a list and wait until you can ask all the questions at once; it’ll be less annoyance to your supervisor, shows you’re organized, and wastes less of your own time.
- THINK CREATIVELY
Always be on the lookout for ways that you can go above and beyond the call of duty. Take initiative and propose projects or new ideas to your supervisor. Work extra hard and be the best at what you do.
- BE ENTHUSIASTIC
There’s nothing worse than someone who doesn’t take his/her job seriously. Make sure that the company knows how much you appreciate working for them. Show that you’re ready to work and ready to learn. This goes back to the asking questions and taking initiative.
- MAINTAIN PERSPECTIVE
Something may be frustrating you now, but it won’t necessarily be as obnoxious in a few weeks. Remember that everything you’re doing is a learning experience. You may get frustrated with yourself for your performance, you may get frustrated with those above you in the chain of command, and maybe you’ll just be frustrated with your tasks. Ya gotta maintain some perspective and realize that an internship isn’t something to get stressed over. I wasted so much time getting frustrated with myself for not learning quickly enough and I finally realized that this is my first internship, during my first week. They didn’t expect me to be perfect and there’s always going to be a little bit of a learning curve.