Today I am starting a new series on the blog: The College Girl’s Guide To… Even though I graduated (!!!) I have 3 1/2 years worth of tips and tricks that I have learned through a lot of trial and error.
I’m kicking off this series with something I often get asked about- internships. I had several internships while I was in school, and every single one taught me waaaayyy more than I could have learned in any class. I’ve written about finding an internship before, but now I want to talk about how to prep for your internship when you finally settle on one!
After you accept your offer
Once you accept your offer after what could be months of applying and interviewing (yay!!), then you need to sort out the details. Are you getting paid, or receiving credit, or both? If you are receiving school credit, make sure you fill out all the necessary paperwork before you start. You may need to fax or scan things, meet with an advisor, have your parents send important documents, visit multiple offices on campus, etc. There are lots of steps to take to make sure you get everything you need! It took me weeks to get everything sorted out for my first internship, so get started as soon as possible.
Figure out how you are getting to work; are you driving? taking the subway? walking? For most of my internships while I was in school, I had to drive to the train station, take the train into NYC, take the subway, and then walk at least a few blocks to my office. If I missed the train, my whole commute was thrown off. Figure out how you are getting to your internship before your first day, and do a dry run if you can. Try to get there as early as possible, and spend some time prepping in a nearby coffee shop if you can just to be safe.
The night before I started my first internship, I was a mess. I probably tried on 10 different outfits, totally unsure of what to wear. I sent pictures to my mom, researched online, and tried to figure out how to look nice without looking too stuffy (most people were wearing jeans when I went for my interview). I ended up settling on a business/business-casual look. Some offices will give a specific dress code, and some you will just have to figure out as you go along! Try to stay professional for at least the first week, and you can always ask your supervisor what is appropriate. Most people are thrown by the idea of having to build an entire professional wardrobe from scratch on a college budget, but it is totally doable! I’m putting together a post on this soon, but try to invest in a few key pieces like a nice blazer, a pair of neutral (and comfy!) heels, and a great skirt or pair of dress pants. Most of my ‘business’ clothes are regular, day-to-day pieces dressed up in one way or another.
Pack your bag the night before- make sure you have an extra charger, your laptop if your office requires you to bring one, a lunch (it is good to stay at your desk the first day while you are still learning the ropes), a water bottle, extra makeup for touch-ups, a pair of flats if your commute involves a lot of walking, any paperwork you need to bring in, and anything else you might need throughout the day. I carried a huge tote with me since I had to trek into the city and had to be prepared for anything!
The most important part is to be excited! You have been given an amazing opportunity, and interning is the best thing I did in college. I met tons of great people and connections, learned what it was like to work in the industry, and built up my resume. Even if you only have one semester that lets you fit in an internship, do it, because it will be well worth it!