Getting the letter that you’ve been selected for an internship is always a thrill but then after that comes the nerves; the questions of how to get through the first few weeks in a new environment, the “oh dear oh dear oh dear, I am so nervous about my first day!” moments.
For the ones who are confidence maestros and “never scared” heroes, I hail thee. For the rest of us however, the nerves are quite normal even for extroverts like myself; you will get through it. The most crucial thing to remember is, whatever you take out of the experience will help further shape your career path. All you have to do is survive the first couple of weeks and you’re well on your way. Here’s how:
Make the first move
You should be ready to introduce yourself when the opportunity arises, some people may seem off-putting however, while some are honestly just too busy to notice the new guys. Do yourself a favour and introduce yourself to people whatever chance you get. Could be in the break room, or while executing a task, a little “Hello, my name is *** and I’m the new **** intern” would not hurt.
If you are an introvert, this probably feels like a herculean task for you but you need to get out of your comfort zone to get something valuable out of this experience.
Be charming, make conversation without being annoying. After introducing myself, try to show genuine interest in what that person does at the company. You do not need to be overly friendly or obsequious to get yourself noticed. Be just the right amount of polite, calm and charming.
Lower your expectations
As a result of your anxiety and apprehension, you would most likely have your expectations way up. It is advisable to lower these expectations a bit to avoid getting so disappointed it affects your work and morale.
You may not be given a desk in your first week, or assigned anything relevant just yet; stay calm and show off how well you can adapt to whatever the situation may be.
Your first week at an intern will be full of new learning curves for you; the good, the bad and the “Oh dear, what am I doing here?!” Getting through all this means you have to ask as many relevant questions as possible. Relevant is highlighted because asking about your colleague or boss’s personal life is not relevant in this scenario.
When in doubt, ask about your responsibilities and work rules as often as you need to so you are fully aware of your role in the organization.
Bond with your fellow interns or colleagues
I realize that you cannot force friendship, but you will need at least one “side-kick” at this new place. Someone to share information with, someone who can keep you up to date and on your toes at the office. You do not have to be everyone’s friend, you just have to find someone who will be willing to help you out when you need it.
This one is all-encompassing, we mean that you should pay attention to everyone and everything. Be observant, as much as we have advised you to socialize, we also recommend that you take your time to observe people and your job description.
Pay attention to the work hierarchy, who you report to and who your boss reports to. Pay attention to the dress code, do not show up wearing a 3-piece suit every day to a firm where everyone is dressed casual. Figure out what the corporate culture is like so you can fit in better.
Demonstrate just how much of a forward thinker you are
During your first few weeks, take time out to find out everything you can about the organization from previous reports, figure out the company’s challenges and successes. Armed with all this information, you will be in a better position to think ahead and show initiative.
There are times when you might not be given any work to do as they do not know the extent to your skills, show them. Find ways to be useful that they might not have realized. You could even start figuring out what pet project you can take on to help out in your downtime. Now, this might seem like you are setting yourself up for more work, we would therefore add that you should avoid getting overwhelmed. Take initiative at your own pace, do not overwork yourself trying to impress.