Whether you’re taking an internship in your hometown or in Washington DC, following these tips will set you apart from other office interns and let your boss know that you a professional who should be taken seriously:
1.Practice Your Commute
Time a ‘dry run’ of your commute to your internship so you know how early you have to leave on your first day of work. Time the practice run with your phone and familiarize yourself with any public transport you’ll have to use everyday— especially if you have to transfer trains on your way to work.
2. When to Arrive
At least on your first day, it’s appropriate to show up 10-15 minutes early to your office. Any earlier than 10-15 minutes is a little odd and might give off the impression that you are extremely nervous. This also creates an awkward situation for people in the office if you have to wait for the other interns to arrive for training anyway.
I would show up to my internship the past two summers 30 minutes early because I experienced some Metro delays during my first week of work and have ever since been paranoid about my car stalling between stops. Rather than skulking about outside of my office, waiting for someone with a key to show up, I would get a coffee or snack in the nearest cafe within a 2 minute walk of my building. This gave me time to collect myself before work and catch up on the day’s news before heading into the office.
3. What to Wear
The dress code for the first day of any job is business professional, unless you are told otherwise. Wear a suit and appropriate shoes, or a nice dress and closed toed heels or flats. Solid colors generally look the most professional on women. Dress however you think is most appropriate and fitting for your office’s culture.
4. Introduce Yourself Briefly with Confidence
The first introduction is not as important as you probably believe. The duration of the internship is when you’ll be building relationships with your coworkers and when they will get to know and appreciate your unique personality. Make sure your first impression is straightforward and kind but don’t take up too much of your coworker’s time.
Generally people do not have 20 minutes to chat about your life goals on a regular work day. Have a one sentence summary of your age, professional interests, and hometown.
5. Know and Communicate Your Skills
On your first day of work your internship supervisor is likely still assessing your skills and will continue to do so throughout the internship in order to best utilize you in the office. Have a mental list of what you are good at and what you would like to learn ready.
For example: “I have experience with print production with InDesign, Adobe audio editing programs, and editing documents for grammar and phrasing corrections. I would like to work on video editing and investigative research for new hires or opposition.”
If you arrive on the first day with a clear idea of what you are good at, then your internship will more quickly assign you specialized projects.
6. Say “Yes!” to Office Tasks
Any small request should generally be taken as a polite command. If you are ready and eager to run an pick up more paper for the copier at the supply store and perform that task quickly, you are more likely to be trusted with more important projects. Treat every small assignment or request as a test of your responsibility and temperament.
7. Buy Your Lunch
At least on the first day of your internship, plan on buying your lunch at the nearest sandwich shop or building cafeteria with your fellow interns. This is a good bonding experience and can help familiarize you with the neighborhood that your office is in.
If you can budget purchasing a relatively inexpensive lunch several time per week, seek out coworkers in your office who usually pick up their lunch at a nearby spot an accompany them to grab take out.
One of my former coworkers would never eat lunch with his boss because his boss prefered to eat at his desk, but he would accompany her to the basement cafeteria where they would both pick up food. The short walk is a perfect time to build a relationship with a coworker without discussing work related material.
8. Bring a Notebook
This is the most important tip on this list. On the first day of your internship bring one small notebook that you plan on using for the entire internship.
Every day I would write the date at the top of a new page and write down any tasks I was asked to do, notes on projects, notable conversations with coworkers, and instructions on how to work the filing or email system.
Keeping detailed notes prevents you from asking people to repeat instructions and, at the end of your internship, provides a detailed account of your duties in the office.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.