It’s no secret that an internship is a great way to gain professional work experience in a specific industry, learn the tricks of the trade, and meet people that have been working in the field for years. An internship provides a unique, firsthand opportunity to try out a particular job as well as a company, and learn in the process. It’s also an opportunity for the company to try you out as well. That’s why it is so critical to make a good impression.
The first day of a job can be stressful for anyone, even a new employee that has been working in the field for years. Add in the fact that for many interns, this could be their first experience in a professional job setting, and the situation is even more traumatic and challenging. So it’s day one on the job, and the question is…now what? Below are five tips to help interns get through the first day and beyond.
1. Dress the Part of Tomorrow, Not Today
Although it’s clear that today the job-at-hand is being a new intern, it’s not the long-term goal. Most interns have their sight set on obtaining full-time employment after the internship is complete. With that in mind, make sure to dress in a manner that is consistent with your future aspirations as a full-time employee. Interns that dress in professional attire make it easy for the employer to visualize them as a full-time employee. It also shows them that the intern has the maturity and is serious about the position. Although it may be tempting to dress for comfort, resist this temptation and dress for the future job.
2. Ask Questions
On the first day, interns will receive a lot of information about the company, daily job responsibilities, and expectations. Make sure to ask questions about anything you don’t fully understand, especially when it comes to what the company expects over the course of the internship. This is also a good time to ask about responsibilities that you will have during your internship, including work hours, breaks, time off, and supervisors.
You should also ask questions about the specific duties you’ll be asked to perform. Interns may often view some of the duties they are assigned as busy work. Although it may seem this way, there’s usually more to the story. Practically everything a company would devote time and resources to ultimately have an impact on the overall business. This includes those tedious tasks that interns are not always excited to take on. The solution: ask questions about specific tasks and what happens after they are completed. Getting answers to these questions will help in understanding how even the most menial tasks affects others and the overall business.
For example, many interns will be asked to make copies of various reports or documents. Often those copies will be distributed to various people within the company, reviewed, and then used to make company decisions. In addition to providing greater understanding and learning, asking questions also highlights that the intern has a healthy level of curiosity.
3. Show Initiative and Willingness to Take on New Tasks
Any new intern’s goal is to make a good impression. One way to do this is to show initiative on the new job. Interns should look for opportunities to showcase their willingness to jump in and make an impact. Make sure the new employer knows that there is new energy and enthusiasm that’s ready to be used to the company’s advantage. Although the intern will not have all the skills to do the job, the intern should show initiative and demonstrate the skills they have and that they are eager to use them while learning more. Showing initiative displays to the employer that their intern is a good asset to the company who is ready to contribute immediately and be a team player.
4. Share Your Capabilities, Goals, and Interests
Prior to your first day, you have undoubtedly shared information with the employer during the resume reviewing and interview processes. This information was intriguing enough to get the internship, however; this information is not usually shared broadly throughout the organization.
Being an intern is all about learning new things and asking questions. As part of this, interns should look for opportunities to share their capabilities, goals and interests throughout the organization—and not just with their immediate manager. First, it gives the intern and their co-workers the chance to get to know each other better and network.
In addition, by knowing the intern’s current capabilities, a supervisor now has a better understanding of the work the intern is able to do and likes to do. Furthermore, information about the intern’s abilities and goals can now help shape their overall experience. Knowing what the intern’s goals are, and placing them in work situations that coincide with those goals, helps both the employer and the intern. The intern gets greater enjoyment of the internship, which leads to increased productivity for the employer.
5. Be Confident
Showing confidence is often easier said than done, especially as the new kid on the block. As the newest team member, interns often feel nervous or even out of place. This is a completely normal feeling as an intern or even new employee. No intern is expected to know exactly how to do the work of an experienced employee, but showing confidence in their ability to learn, get information and complete tasks with enthusiasm goes a long way. Confidence can be displayed by showing good posture and eye contact, a professional appearance and something very easy that everyone can do–smile. A smile shows happiness, a good attitude and confidence.
Confidence also can portray you as approachable, which makes others more likely to offer a helping hand. No one wants to be around someone who appears standoffish or unhappy. Make sure you’re the intern that others are excited to get to know and be around, with a welcoming smile on your face that screams confidence.The first day on a new job is often stressful for anyone, but these tips can help make sure you not only survive but make a good impression in the process.