The Good Intern
New Year, New Goals
The First Day
Posted by Michelle Pence - - 4 comments

Ugly Betty on her first day at Mode.

You composed a cover letter that has the potential to win a literary award, you totally connected with the person who interviewed you, and then of course... YOU GOT THE INTERNSHIP!

Take a deep breath my friend, because the hard part is over.  Now, all you have to do is make a great first impression and completely rock the first day of your internship.  No big deal, right?  It won't be, because with these tips your first day will be stress-free and get you amped up for the amazing internship experience to come.

What to do before showing up

Figure out parking

Chances are, parking is not something on your mind the few days before your internship starts, but it should be.  You definitely don't want to show up ready for work only to find out that the parking situation is a huge headache and end up being late or starting your day completely stressed because of it.  Simply ask your internship coordinator what the deal is on intern parking and you'll avoid having to worry about it the day-of.

Know the location

Be sure to either have the location plugged into your GPS the night before, or better yet, have scouted it out beforehand to find out what traffic will be like.  Stressing about things such as parking and where you're going should not be taking up your energy on the first day, so do a little advanced preparation and avoid these hassles.

Plan what you're going to wear

Remember the days when you would lay out your outfits the night before grade school to make sure you were looking your best... or maybe because your mom made you?  Reverting to those days is not such a bad idea the night before your internship.  At the very least, you should be fully aware of the company's dress code.  Just check with your internship coordinator to figure out what's appropriate and what's not.  I think it's safe to assume that sky high heels and short skirts are probably a no-go no matter where you're interning at, so save those for the weekend.

Do your research

You should know the company's website like the back of your hand before you start your internship.  Okay... well maybe not quite that extreme, but you should take the time to thoroughly examine more than just the front page of the site, including the company's mission, what they do, and the staff page.  Before my first legislative internship, someone told me about an intern who had once made flashcards with all of the senator's names and faces on them, so he could memorize them all, and when he passed a senator in the halls of the Capitol, he could say, "Good morning Senator So-and-So."  While you probably don't need to follow his approach for the employees of the company you'll be interning for, which might border on over-prepared and maybe a little psychotic, be familiar with the employees who are listed on the website, and especially anyone who you've had previous contact with.

Make a plan

You want to have a clear idea about what the morning of your internship will be like... what time you'll wake up, when you need to get out the door, how long it will take to get there, etc.  Plan to get to the office 15-20 minutes early, since this is pretty much the norm for the first day, and if you're really good, will be the standard for the rest of your internship.  Whether or not you're on time is one of the most obvious things your boss will be looking for on your first day and one of the things you definitely should not screw up on.  If you absolutely must have your caffeine fix the morning-of, plan ahead and account for that time in your schedule.

What to bring

A notebook

The key to transitioning a great first day into a successful internship, is to write down virtually everything you're told during your training.  Sometimes your supervisor will be super approachable and be happy to answer questions you have at any point in your internship, and other times you will get the supervisor from hell who really just doesn't want to deal with you.  I've had them both.  You never know, so avoiding redundant questions by writing everything down is the way to go.  DON'T use your phone to take notes; it might look like you're texting or not completely paying attention.

Something to write with

This is not elementary school.  You shouldn't have to ask to borrow a pen.  Be prepared and bring several of your own.


Your internship coordinator should indicate what exactly you need to bring your first day as far as documents go.  This may include a photo copy of your driver's license, social security card, or any paperwork that needed to be filled out in advance.  Whatever you do, don't forget to bring what was requested.  Forgetting something that was requested makes a HORRIBLE first impression, so gather everything up in a folder ahead of time, and don't forget to grab it on the way out.


You probably won't know exactly what your lunch break will be like, whether you'll be able to go out and grab something to eat or will be expected to bring something with you.  Bring some small food items with you like granola bars, fruit, bottled drinks, etc. along with some cash so you're prepared for whatever ends up being the case.

Feel free to share if you have any other tips on how to have a good first day of an internship.  Also, stay tuned for tips on how to make a lasting (in a good way) first impression on the people at your internship!

P.S. Welcome College Fashion readers!  I'm so excited and honored to have been featured on the Haute Links list this week.  For more useful tips on interning and preparing for the work force, don't forget to subscribe above and follow The Good Intern on Twitter and Facebook.  Have a GREAT school year!

4 Responses so far.

  1. College Fashion Reader says:

    great tips

  2. Hawaii Pacific Student says:

    My internship is a real "lions and tigers and bears, oh my" experience, and I feel completely unprepared. I'll be interning at a zoo, and I really don't know what I'm in for. Great tips, especially about bringing food, I wouldn't have thought of that.

  3. Thank you both!

    Hawaii Pacific Student- I love that you're interning at a zoo. That will be an awesome experience! I've never interned at a zoo, but hopefully my tips will still be helpful.

  4. Thanks Michelle for the blog. Enjoyed reading around the subject. I have added a link to it from our blog, and hope you like the big profile picture that we have put here for you.

    In truth, I think lots of people need to be better prepared for Internships and don't know where to go with it, so I think your blog gives some excellent pointers. We will be referring people to you. Thanks again :)

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