7 Tips to Help You Survive the First Day of Your Internship

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It's that time of the year again! Final papers are being handed in, boxes are being packed up, and everyone is heading home. Which also means that summer internships are starting soon. This summer, I am interning at Chanel in Public Relations, and I could not be more excited!

This is going to be my fifth summer fashion internship, so I feel like a veteran... but that doesn't mean I'm not nervous. It is always nerve-wracking to enter into a completely new situation, meet new people and try to figure out how to complete the tasks that you are assigned. To make your first day of your internship go more smoothly, here are some tips:

1. Pick the perfect outfit.

On your first day, you want to pick an outfit that not only adheres to the dress code, but also makes you feel extra confident.

If you don't know the dress code, your best bet is to pick a dressy, yet classic outfit. Why? Because it is better to be overdressed than underdressed, and it is better to blend in than to stand out for the wrong reasons on your first day.

And leave your crazy printed pants at home until you know how the other people at the office dress. If you find that you will in fine wearing them, by all means wear them during your second week of work.

Perfect internship outfit idea


Photo: Elle

The look above is a great outfit for the first day of an internship - it's classic and appropriate, but the top adds some fun and the bag makes it fashion-forward.

2. Make sure you bring all of your paperwork.

Were you asked to bring in forms to hand in on your first day? What about a form that needs to be filled out by your manager? And will you need a driver's license or a passport? Make sure you bring EVERYTHING!

On the first day of my internship last year, I showed up to the Human Resources office, where all the interns were asked to go to check in, and as soon as I sat down, I heard one of the other interns talking about how she was supposed to start her internship the week before but couldn't because she didn't bring her passport with her.

That was when I realized I didn't have mine.

I ran to the receptionist and told her that I had forgotten it, raced downstairs, and got in a cab and had him bring me to my apartment, got it, and had him drive me back. It took 25 minutes and cost $30, but I got back to the office just in time to be checked in with the last group of girls. No one knew that I had forgotten it. It is safe to say that I don't think I will forget it again this year. Although I better go knock on wood...

3. Shake hands with everyone.

This is the number one thing my mom always tells me to do on my first day at a new workplace. Sometimes, it is awkward but it is definitely the right thing to do. Shake the hand of every single new person you meet, even if it feels like your arm will off.

4. Don't look at your phone!

Keep your cell off and in your purse for the entire first day. If you must check it, go to the bathroom or do it at lunch. If you find that all of your coworkers are on their phones after your first few days, you can start to check it only if it is appropriate. But it is super unprofessional to be on your phone in front of your managers, even if they are on theirs.

5. Find a good place for lunch.

Ask one of your new co-workers for a recommendation - after a super stressful morning you deserve to treat yourself! Or if you packed your lunch, find the perfect spot to it eat it.

Last summer when I needed to get out of the freezing cold office building, I would walk a few blocks to the Plaza Hotel or Central Park, find a bench and eat my lunch while people watching or reading a book. I just got a Kindle and I am super excited to bring it to my internship so I can read at lunch. It's much classier than my worn and torn copy of Ayn Rand's We the Living that I dragged everywhere with me last summer.

Potentially inappropriate internship outfit


Photo: Elle

The look above is NOT a good outfit to wear on the first day of your internship. It is definitely trendy, but it could be too trendy and too casual for some offices. If you work in a very conservative office, you will not be dressed appropriately.

6. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

It is your first day at a new office, and you do not know the procedures or how any of the systems work. I promise that in two weeks you will know the office inside out, but in the beginning, make sure that you ask your co-workers or manager if you have any questions. Even if you feel like you are pestering them with too many questions, during the first few days, it is better to ask than to do something wrong, and they will not get annoyed with your questions.

7. Remember that everything will go fine!

If you follow these tips and act appropriately, I know that you will make a great first impression! And remember, the people you work for are happy to have you because you help make their lives easier. Work hard, stay positive, and you'll have a great experience!

Your thoughts?

Now that you've seen my tips, I want to hear from you! Fellow interns, what are YOUR tips for first day success? First-time interns, do you have any other questions? Make sure to leave a comment and let's discuss.