How to Nail the First Week of Your Internship

June 11, 2018
By Robelen Bajar

When you're starting an internship it's easy to feel like you have a lot to prove. After all, this is probably one of the first steps on your career journey. It's always important to make a good first impression, but there's no need to be overwhelmed. We've complied some tips to help you nail your first week in a new internship. In fact, these will hold you in good stead whenever you start a new role!

1. Dress the part

In some workplaces, this comes down to personal preference, but it's important to dress appropriately for your organisation/industry. For example, if you’re interning with a corporate company, it's important to look polished and professional so the people you’re spending time with are as comfortable taking you into internal brainstorming sessions as they are to meetings with clients. If your position has a more practical focus, such as at a veterinary surgery, you may want to ditch the suits and heels for flats and practical attire. That way you can lend a hand as needed. Confused about what’s best? There’s nothing wrong with emailing the HR office in advance to seek some guidelines. In fact, this will set you apart as someone who knows how and when to ask the right questions.

2. Contribute from your skill set

It can be hard as an intern not to feel a little intimidated in an environment where people have been doing, rather than studying. But in many cases, that may work to your advantage. By virtue of your studies, you’re most likely up to date with the latest trends and technology, and may be able to offer insights to assist the business. Anything from apps for easier communication, to some research tying demographics to consumer trends can help your team be more efficient. The trick, of course, is not to assume that you know best, but to thoughtfully offer considered input when the opportunity arises.

3. Don’t be too proud

It can be hard, particularly when you think you have more to offer, to find yourself completing menial tasks, or running around to get coffee. And to be honest, if that's all you're doing in your internship then fair enough if you're unhappy. But, it's important to show you're a team player and that you're willing to help out wherever possible. In fact, learning to support a team, even with the most basic of tasks, is one of the best skills you can develop. Remember, everyone has to get their foot on the ladder somehow, and accepting you may have to put time into some less exciting bits before you reach the juicy stuff is an important step on your career journey.

4. Socialise, but do it responsibly

Particularly if you're working in an office environment, you may find invitations come your way for Friday drinks or similar. Going along can be a great idea (provided you can afford it), helping you meet and consolidate relationships with members of your team. But, you have to remember that you're with colleagues, and you should treat it differently to a post-exam 'outing' with your friends. Sure, have a drink, but don't see it as an excuse to get messy, even if you think you're being funny. Remember, you need to work professionally with these people come Monday morning. 

5. Raise your hand

You'll find there are lots of opportunities while you're interning to help out with different tasks. Putting your hand up to help with stuff outside of what's normally expected of you not only helps you develop more experience, but let's everyone know you're an enthusiastic team player. Someone needs data researched? Volunteer. Someone needs a document typed up? Do it. Someone wants a flowchart to review a process? Say you'll get it done. Remember, you’re there to do work anyway, and if you're taking on more tasks than you'd normally be required to do, apart from gaining more experience, you can rest assured people will remember you for the right reasons.

If you take these tips on board, get involved and show your enthusiasm, you'll find your first week a breeze. As long as you stay enthusiastic, and act professionally, you're in for an amazing experience that'll teach you so much about work in your ideal industry.

Looking for an internship? Employers are constantly adding new opportunities on Paddl, so make sure to sign up.