Preparing for an internship

People in an office.

There comes a time when one has to transition from student to intern whether that be for two weeks, a summer, or a semester. They're an inevitable part of student life, at least they seem to be lately, not just for work experience but also to get one’s foot in the door and to connect with industry players. 

With a lot riding on your back, it’s normal to feel nervous about starting your internship. I had just finished my first full week and I couldn’t describe to you how anxious I was about it all. That was until I started and realised that it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. Already, I’ve learnt so much including how to better prepare for an internship.

So, here are some of the things I’ve picked up so far.

Familiarise yourself with the commute

There’s a high chance that you will be traversing roads and routes that are unfamiliar to get to your new office. So, to make sure that you’re able to arrive on time for your first day, I suggest navigating your commute before that. Oh, and do it on a weekday too, so you’ll know what the traffic conditions are like during peak hours. 

This gives you the opportunity to plan your morning routine and to hopefully arrive at work on time. Arriving late because of poor planning won’t impress your bosses (or anyone, really) much, I fear. 

Bring a notepad

Or a notebook or really just anything to write your notes on because I believe you will be doing a lot of that – at least, I have. I suppose you could write them down on your phone too but I’ve been advised to use my phone as little as possible, so a notepad it is.

Personally, I feel like having everything related to my internship written down in a notepad is much more organised than having bits and pieces of them in different places. By going analog, I’m also separating my work life from my personal life.

Bring snacks

You know how you get hit by a sudden wave of hunger after studying too much at the library? I didn’t think it’d be possible when it comes to a desk job, but I get tsunamis of hunger at work. Like studying at uni, working will also require heaps of mental and physical energy, so it should come as no surprise that a snack or two would come in handy. 

I hadn’t realised that on my first day, so my stomach was grumbling a lot in the hours before and after lunch, but I bring along little snacks now that I know my brain needs constant refuelling. Mini M&Ms and Nutella sandwiches are my go-to at the moment – easy to pack and easy to make.

Overdressed is best

Now, this depends on the type of work you do and the environment you work in but if you’re interning at an office like me, chances are you will be expected to wear office-appropriate attire.

Some places may be casual, while others are more formal, and decoding that can be quite tricky. You can always start by observing the way your colleagues dress to get a sense of what’s acceptable and what’s not in the office. But to be safe, I say overdressed is best because getting compliments are way better than getting told off.

That’s all I’ve got so far. I have a long way to go with my internship, so I’ll keep you posted on any new observations I make. To everyone who’s currently doing their internships too, I wish you all the best! 

Tagged in What messes with your head, international student, internships, working