Tips to Ease Your Nerves When Preparing for your First Internship

By: Lindsay Scholten
Aug 4, 2017 1:25 PM ET

Internships are a great way to prepare for your future. They can help you discover if the job path you’ve chosen is the right one for you, expose you to the professional world, and equip you with skills, experience and knowledge for a successful career. Since internships are usually one of the first experiences for students in the professional working environment, they can seem a bit daunting. To help ease the nerves, here are five tips I learned during my summer internship to ensure you get the most from your experience.

1. Be Professional. Maintaining a professional appearance and attitude is extremely important as you want to make sure you leave your internship with a strong reference. Make sure to show up on time for work, complete your tasks by the deadline, dress appropriately, and act properly. You only have one chance to make a first impression, so be sure that you are sending the right message.

2. Meet Your Coworkers. You are going to be spending your days surrounded by people who have lots of knowledge and experience, so fully engage with your coworkers. Those who are working in the same field as you can provide you with new skills/information that will aid you during the internship and later in your career. Even if someone is not working in your exact field, you never know how they might be able to help you later down the line. If you have a more introverted personality, focus on building one or two meaningful relationships, which can “trump superficially knowing 10 or 15 people.” Internships are a great opportunity to grow your professional network so don’t be afraid to socialize with and get to know people in the office.

3. Stay Busy. Internships are opportunities for you to grow your skills and learn new things that will be helpful later in life. Don’t be afraid to ask for work if things are slow; take advantage of the time you’re given, you never know when you’ll get an opportunity like this again. However, be careful to not over extend yourself – you need to produce quality work, especially if want to receive a strong recommendation. Simply accept the assignments you’re given, complete them to the best of your ability, and ask for more work when assignments are finished.

4. Be Organized. An important part of internships is demonstrating solid organizational and prioritization skills. Whenever you have meetings or calls, take notes to help remember your tasks and deadlines. Organize your time wisely to meet all deadlines and ensure that you’re producing valuable work, not rushing projects at the last minute. Make sure to keep track of each project you work on so when it comes time to discuss your progress with your supervisor, you can give a clear report. The earlier your start your organization process, the easier it will be to prioritize and the better off you will be.

5. Seize Opportunities. Your internship is “one of the most important pieces of the foundation you are laying for a successful career,” therefore take advantage of as many opportunities as you can. In the beginning, use the transition time to ask lots of questions—you’ll be new to the environment and people will be happy to help you adjust. Also, don’t be afraid to take on more responsibilities that go beyond your job description; being a committed, hard-working employee will be greatly appreciated. An internship is your time to acquire valuable experience, so put in as much as you want to get out of it.

I understand how scary the first day of your internship can be, but if you follow these five basic guidelines, walking into the office won’t be as intimidating. Hopefully, these tips will help you feel confident and prepared for the professional world so you can fully enjoy your summer internship.

Lindsay Scholten is a Marketing Intern for the summer at Sodexo in the United Kingdom. During the academic year, Lindsay is full-time student-athlete at Juniata College pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Integrated Media Arts & Marketing and is a member of the Juniata Field Hockey team.