Your first week of internship

Summer interns: Congratulations on obtaining a summer internship! 

Hopefully your summer will be fun, exciting, and challenging as you complete your internship.  One thing to always keep in mind is to be proactive.  Proactive interns are self-starters, have a positive attitude, and always looking for opportunities to learn (especially on days that aren’t that interesting).  The internship learning experience is as enriching as you want it to be—as with most things, you will get out of the internship what you put in.

 Important things for your first day

The following are a list of things to learn, consider, or discuss with your supervisor your first day and first week of internship.  If you’ve already had your first day, is there anything you still need to accomplish?

  • Dress code and expectations
  • Telephone procedure
  • Instructions on using office equipment (copier, fax, etc)
  • Rules for eating/drinking in the office
  • Length of lunch break, what people do for lunch, etc.
  • Proper way to address your supervisor and other staff members
  • Location of office supplies, and what you may use
  • Work schedule expectations
  • Learn where you are able to keep your personal belongings
  • Payroll forms and pay schedules if you are being paid
  • Procedures for sick and vacation days
  • If you will need keys, an ID, parking pass, or other essentials

First day to-do list:

  • Meet everyone you’ll be working with, and learn their role.
  • Cement your internship schedule.  If it is somewhat flexible, work out parameters with your supervisor.
  • Tell your supervisor if you have any longstanding summer plans.
  • Set up a weekly or biweekly meeting time with your supervisor.
  • Learn your supervisor’s preferences and “pet peeves.”  Do they prefer in-person or email communication? What is his/her leadership style?

Observe the organization’s culture

Culture isn’t reserved for the theatre or an anthropology class—it’s at work in the workplace. You likely selected your internship location in part because it was a “good fit” for you, and the organization’s culture and your personality are all a part of that fit.  If you have ideas for projects, programs, new ideas, and initiatives, it’s good to consider how they fit into the office’s culture.  Below are some things to consider about your internship site’s culture:

  • Basic flow of procedures and activities throughout the day
  • Office energy level (fast-paced and noisy, calm and quiet, or a mix)
  • How the office handles events, special occasions, and birthdays
  • What ‘jargon’ is used, and what it means
  • How decisions are made and implemented
  • How work-related information is distributed
  • What people talk about, and what matters to them
  • How organization members greet and relate to each other
  • Behavior that is rewarded and frowned upon
  • The organization’s attitude toward new ideas and change

What to do if there’s a serious problem

If you have problems or serious concerns involving your internship, first discuss it respectfully with your supervisor. Then, if there are still concerns and you are receiving academic credit for the internship, discuss it both with your faculty internship coordinator and notify the Georgia College Career Center.  The important thing is to receive support from professionals around you so that you may make an informed decision regarding next steps.

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