Many of you are starting your internships in the coming days, so here are five things to think about for your first day:
1. Map and test your commute. Know exactly how to get to your office and where to park, and try it out during the morning rush hour to get the timing right. Then, on the day of, leave earlier than you think you need to — by at least 15 minutes. It’s one of those laws of the universe that the one time it is absolutely necessary that you get somewhere on time, disaster strikes… so be prepared. You may even want to plot an alternate route, just in case. If you get there too early to head up to the office, you can always sit at Starbucks for a bit and collect yourself.
2. Don’t be shy. If you’re an introvert like me, silence is your go-to response in new situations. But you have to resist the urge to retreat behind the walls of your cubicle. Instead, pretend like you’re actually comfortable in the new environment. If you’re really freaked out, think about someone you respect who is really outgoing and confident in any setting — do what you think they would do. After a few successful introductions, you’ll start to feel better. And if you have a question, ask!
3. Accept the lunch invite. I guarantee you that someone will ask you to lunch on your first day. It may be your boss, a few new colleagues, or both. At one of my first jobs, it was actually a “welcome lunch” in the conference room with all of the partners and just one other new associate — a very nice gesture that felt more like being interviewed (and totally killed my appetite). But no matter what the lunch hour brings, accept it with a smile, order something that won’t drip down your chin or get stuck in your teeth, and enjoy yourself. (A note on paying: Be sure you bring enough cash for lunch in case you go somewhere and need to split the check. If they want to buy you lunch, protest a little at first, but then accept if they insist –and don’t forget to say “thank you.”)
4. Don’t leave early. You probably won’t have enough work to keep you busy for a full workday, but leaving early doesn’t leave a good impression. If your boss hasn’t assigned you a task, ask for something. If there really isn’t anything for you to work on yet, spend the time getting accustomed to the firm’s IT setup. How does the email work? What about the calendar? Is there a research system you need to learn? Where are the office supplies? Do you need anything for your desk? Does your desk phone work and how do you use it? Of course, the answers will require some asking — take the opportunity to get to know the people you work with. Then, when everyone else starts to go home, you can follow their lead.
5. Accept the after work social invite. Have a clear schedule for after work because, as with lunch, a few of your new colleagues may want to get to know you better over drinks. That’s cool, you should go. But whatever you do, don’t get sloshed. You may want to, since you did just survive one of the most stressful days of your career, but resist the urge. Don’t be afraid to stick with soda (you do have to drive home after all), and if you do drink, just have one and nurse it. Also, be friendly and stay 100% positive — don’t complain about your day or say anything bad about anyone you met, even if that’s what everyone else is doing. You need to keep all doors open — it takes more than one day to figure out how to fit in, and you don’t want to provide gossip material.
For more great advice on how to make your first day count, check out Jacquelyn Smith’s “19 Things You Should Do On Your First Day Of Work” ( http://www.businessinsider.com/what-to-do-your-first-day-of-work-2014-2#ixzz332DeMa2H ).