Congratulations on securing a summer internship! You’ve put in all that effort to get this position, but the work doesn’t end here. An internship precedes a job just like an engagement precedes marriage: you want to make sure that you’re a good fit at the firm before you sign a full-time contract, and your employer wants to know that you’re capable of handling the work before committing to hiring you full-time.
Over the next two or three months, it’s your opportunity to impress your employer and land a full-time offer. Whether or not this is your dream job, it’s important to make a good impression. Even if you end up working somewhere else after graduation, making that good impression will serve you well in the future.
Here are some tips to keep in mind, especially during the first few days on the job:
· Invest in a professional wardrobe – They say that first impressions are everything, and an easy way to make a good first impression is to look professional. That doesn’t mean spending tons of money on a new wardrobe, but it does mean buying a few nice things (the sweatpants and hoodies you wear to class are not going to cut it, unless your firm employs a very casual dress code). If you’re not sure what the environment at your workplace will be like, it’s always safe to dress up during the first couple of days and then see what your coworkers wear. With that said, don’t be parading around designer watches and bags – even if you can afford them. Nothing screams pretentious more than an intern wearing a Rolex.
· Do your due diligence – Read up on the company before your first day. Know who the major executives are, see what headlines the firm has been making in recent days. While this doesn’t directly pertain to your job, it’s always good to stay aware of what’s going on with the firm.
· Be on time – The last thing you want is to be late on your first day. Know how to get to the office and plan to arrive at least 30 minutes early on your first day, in case anything goes wrong on your way there. Since the entire internship is essentially a trial run for you being hired, you should never be late. If that means losing 30 minutes of sleep or knocking back a few extra cups of coffee, so be it. Also, many of you may have your internal clocks trained on the college-schedule: waking up at noon, staying up until 5 a.m., and taking naps throughout the day. That’s not going to help you the work place. Start waking up 15 minutes earlier every day from today and in no time, you’ll be used to getting up at 6 or 7 a.m.
· Stay late – Continuing on the previous point, not only should you arrive early, you should always stay later than you’re expected to. Don’t pack up and leave whenever 5 p.m. (or whenever the standard end-of-the-day is at your office) hits. You want to show your dedication to the job. There’s always loose ends to tie up/reports to compile at the end of the day, so put in some extra work before heading out.
· Always keep a pen and notepad on you – From orientation sessions to impromptu meetings, you never know when you’ll be expected to take notes. So always be prepared and have something to write with.
· Communicate with your manager(s) – During most internships, you’ll be reporting directly to at least one or several managers. Make sure to maintain open lines of communication with whoever is managing you. They’ll be there to answer any questions you have, to provide guidance, and they’ll also be the ones determining whether or not to hire you at the end of the summer. Don’t be afraid to go to them if you’re unsure about the goal of your project or if you encounter any other difficulties.
· Ask questions – You’re an intern joining a new company and working on a project in a field you’ve likely had no previous experience in. Everyone will expect you to have questions, so don’t be afraid to ask!
· Network – Not only is networking beneficial for your long-term career, it will also make life a lot easier during your internship! Many projects require you to work across divisions, so having contacts with employees at other divisions of the firm can prove to be handy when you’re working on your project.
· Smile! – Nobody wants to work with a negative person, so always maintain a positive attitude. Even if it’s 10 p.m. and you’ve been crunching numbers on Excel for the past five hours, do it with a smile on your face.
Again, congratulations of your summer internship! As always, if you have any questions or concerns about what to expect, feel free to make an appointment with a Career Advancement counselor!