Three Things to Do Before Your First Day as an Intern

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Congratulations! You secured yourself a great internship and you’re setting yourself up to grow and learn as a professional. A great internship can be hard to come by in college, so seriously, give yourself a little pat on the back.

You’ve probably gotten some great advice on what to do during your internship (if you haven’t, check out this past Office Hours post). There are things you can do before you even start to make sure you get off on the right foot with your new (temporary) team.

Here are our tips on how to be an all-star intern before you even start.

Keep Up the Research

If you got the job, you probably did a good amount of research on the company for your interviews. If by some chance you didn’t, now’s the time to start.

Research the company. Spend a ton of time on the website, read their blog, follow them on social media. Really dig in and try to understand what the company stands for, what products or services it offers, and its position in the industry. If anyone you interviewed with mentioned any projects or products they are working on, spend some time looking into them to understand what makes them unique and needed at this time.

Research the team. Google is your friend! Look up the CEO and other executives and read any interviews or articles you can find. Look up your new teammates up on LinkedIn to understand their backgrounds and career trajectories. Understanding their outlooks on the business will help you determine where you can add the most value.

Research the industry. Understand the current trends in the industry, figure out the major players how your company fits into the competitive landscape. Is your new company an industry heavyweight leading the pack, or a fresh upstart looking to disrupt the old ways? Who is the competition? What issues are they all facing?

Your initial research should only take a few hours of focused browsing and digging. From there, set up news alerts for the company name, the major competitors, and the CEO to keep you up to date. All of this will help you better understand your new company’s business and its leaders, which will ultimately make you better prepared to jump in and start making a contribution from day one.

Reach Out to Your New Team

In the weeks leading up to your internship, reach out to the people you’ll be working with. If you know who your manager will be, send them a note. It doesn’t have to be long; simple is better. A few key things to include–reiterate how excited you are to be beginning this internship, reference something from your interview or previous communication that you’re pumped to get going on, and include any highlights in your life that may have occurred since the last time you’d been in touch. If you have the time, you can ask to get a head start on some of the work you’ll be doing. Being proactive will impress your manager and remind them why they hired you.

“Hi Sarah,

I’m thrilled to be joining your team as the marketing intern this summer! I’m especially excited to begin working on cataloging your video archives. This past semester, I took a film course so I’m ready to jump right in.

If there is anything you think I should do to prepare for my first day, please let me know. I want to hit the ground running!

Looking forward to seeing you and the rest of the team when I start next week.

[Your Name]”

Send a similar note to other people on that team that you’ll be working with. Personalize each note, DO NOT just copy and paste. In this instance, a lazy email is worse than no email at all.

If you really want to impress, reach out to people on other teams at the company, especially if you may need to work alongside them or ask for their help on a project. You may have met with some of these people during your interviews, but if not, do some research. This is info you can typically find on the company’s website or LinkedIn. You don’t need to reach out to everyone if it’s a large organization, just the teams where it makes the most sense. If you’re joining the engineering team, send a note to the product team; if you’ll be in sales, reach out to finance or marketing, etc. Again, just a quick note here is helpful to remind people of who you are and make a positive first impression.

“Hi Olu,

My name is [Your Name], a [class year] at [college or university], and I will be joining [company] this [season] as an intern on the [team name]. I’m really excited to learn more about what you do and help out on [company initiative, product, or project] during this internship.

I will be starting on [start date] and will make a point to come find you that week and introduce myself in person.

Looking forward to meeting and working with you!

[Your name]”

Almost no one takes the time to do this. Most people stop after sending a thank you note following the interview, so this is a really easy way to set yourself apart, make a positive memorable impression, and have people looking forward to your start date.

Figure Out the Logistics

Spend a little time thinking about the tiny details of your internship day in and day out. What are the office hours? Think about how you’ll get into the office every day. Will you commute on public transit or drive? Is there parking nearby? How long will it take to get there during morning rush hour?

Are you clear on the dress code for interns? Some companies are pretty casual in the summer but may expect you to dress up if you’ll be interacting with customers or clients.

Do you know how you’ll eat lunch every day? Is there an onsite cafeteria or places to eat close by?

What’s the procedure when you arrive on your first day? Will you have to go through security? Do you know where in the office or to what floor you’re supposed to go? Do you know if you’re supposed to bring anything, like a photo ID or laptop?

These may seem silly but you don’t want to show up late on your first day or be caught by surprise by a minor detail that disrupts your ability to do good work. Companies with formalized internship programs may share these details in advance but if you’re joining a smaller company or a newer startup, they may not have thought these things through. If you’re unclear, ask in advance.

Starting off on the right foot will set the tone for a rewarding internship experience. Following these simple steps will make sure you establish a positive impression of yourself and add value from day one.

Got any other go to internship tricks or questions? Let us know in the comments.

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