School is officially out for summer, but your days aren’t about to slow down anytime soon. All of that research and hustle during last semester paid off, and you landed the summer internship of your dreams.
Congratulations! But if you think the hardest part of intern life was landing the job, think again.
A summer internship is a valuable asset to any wanna-be-professional looking to make a name for herself in a new field. Additionally, summer internships are the perfect opportunity to get your foot in the door, get hands-on experience, and test out different roles before making any full-time commitments.
But, if you want to make a lasting impression on the people at your internship you need to start from Day 1—or else risk getting lost in the rotating door of company interns. Read on for a few invaluable tips and tricks you can use to prepare for your summer internship and get one step closer to landing that out-of-college dream job.
1. Do Your Homework
Chances are, you already researched the company during your interview stage but it’s never a bad idea to catch up on what they’ve been doing lately. Use their website to refresh your memory on what the company’s “mission” is, how long they’ve been in business, and who their noted clients may be.
Don’t forget to familiarize yourself with the top executives (aka your bosses) and the team members you’ll be seeing every day for the next three months.
It’s also a good idea to start following their social media pages so that you’re in the know about any company events or press they’re promoting before you start.
Not only will you feel more confident knowing the ins and outs of the company, but it may also provide you with a few “insiders” talking points you could use to break the ice with higher-ups while you wait for the elevator.
If you know anyone within the company, it would not hurt to reach out to them. Maybe you can grab a quick coffee before your first day to get some insider information and calm any nerves; having a familiar face when you walk in the office is always reassuring.
2. Dress the Part
Sweatpants and flip-flops might have been fine for early morning classes, but now that you’re living the professional life you need to dress the part. That’s not to say you have to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on two-piece pantsuits.
These days, more and more offices are on board with the whole “business casual” look, but there are still quite a few that require their employees—and interns—to dress in a more corporate-professional attire.
Before you go shopping for your new work wardrobe, do a little digging on the company’s website and media pages to find out which dress code is best.
If you get the impression theirs is a more “business casual” workplace, then stock your closet with some nice blouses, shift dresses, and blazers or cardigans to get you through the summer. It’s probably also a good idea to leave your jeans at home—at least until you’ve lived through the week and seen just how “casual” their dress code leans.
If you’re still unsure how to dress for your first day, reach out to human resources or the person who hired you to ask. Not only will they be impressed with your desire to fit in with the office culture, but they’ll also take note of your initiative before your time on the clock has even begun.
3. Research the Area
If your summer internship is in a part of town you’re not super familiar with, then make it a point to spend a day walking or driving around the area to see what’s what.
As an intern, there’s a possibility part of your job may be to pick up lunches or go on mid-afternoon coffee runs, and the last thing you want to do is come back empty-handed to a brood of hungry and irritated co-workers because you couldn’t find the lunch place.
While you’re at it, doing a test run of your commute and timing how long it’ll take you to get to work during rush hour is also a great way to prepare for your first day.
Nothing says “ready to work” more than showing up on time—or early—to your first day at a new job. If you are in a new city, figuring out their public transportation can be tricky, so a test run will be great practice.
4. Make Friends with the Other Interns
You may not be at your internship to make friends but navigating the waters of office politics is more fun with a buddy. Find out if your company has an “intern orientation” event or social media page specifically designed to connect interns. Once you find out who your fellow interns are, take it upon yourself to open the lines of communication.
A little camaraderie with your peers will make your summer more fun and highlight those “team leader” skills to the powers that be.
Although you might work in different departments, lunch would be a great time to congregate and relax from any work stresses. It is also a great opportunity to learn about their different roles within the company.
5. Get Plenty of Sleep
You may be used to burning the midnight oil during those last few stressful weeks of school but getting a good night’s sleep before your first day should be a top priority.
Retrain your body to go to sleep at a “normal hour” by getting to bed 15 minutes earlier every night until you get to your ideal bedtime. It’s also a good idea to start waking up earlier every day too. The last thing you want is to be late to work on your first day because you slept through your alarm’s snooze function. Twice.
6. Brush Up on Basics
The point of an internship is for you to learn the ropes of your chosen profession, but it’s important to remember you were also hired to do a job.
Your internship will expect you to know how to do everything your resume said you could. In other words, if you claimed to be proficient in PowerPoint in your interview, then, at the very least, you better know how to open it on your computer.
Take a few days to brush up on your skills.
Watch YouTube videos for clarity on programs you’re a little shaky on or reach out to friends to give you a refresher course on Excel if you discover you’re less familiar with it than you thought. There’s always room for improvement in the workforce but showing up to work on your first day confident in your skills is always the way to go.
7. Remember to Relax
The last thing you want to do is walk into your internship a nervous wreck. Schedule some time before your big day to decompress and get your nerves in check.
Plan a spa day with friends, take a yoga class at your local gym, or just spend some quiet time meditating in the morning before you head into the office.
Take some time to work on you before you work on your career path, and you’re guaranteed to put your best foot forward on your first day. By being prepared, you will have fewer obstacles thrown at you and will be able to relax.