As you may know, I’m currently the Marketing Intern for an automotive company in Boucherville, and will be until April 21. My internship started on January 9, which means my first week is already over! I can’t believe how quickly time flies.
I headed to my internship on Monday, January 9 with butterflies in my stomach. I was in a new town, all by myself, and I was going to meet the people I would be working with 40 hours every week for the next 15 weeks. Talk about scary! I had no idea to expect.
I know starting a new internship can be scary, so I gathered a few lessons and things to remember about the first week of an internship!
- You will be confused. You’re probably going to be handed some assignments as soon as you enter the office. Some of them will be easy enough, but sometimes you’ll simply stare at it with a question mark in your eyes. It’s normal not to understand everything your supervisor hands you. Sometimes you’ll step in when projects are already under the way, so you have to catch up as soon as you can (that’s my situation right now). Ask questions when you don’t understand something. Your supervisor will be happy to fill you in!
- You will get lost. Okay, I don’t know about you, but my office is a real maze. The first day, I couldn’t leave my desk without having someone to tell me which was the right way! I still don’t know where everything is after a week, but I’m getting better! I know my way to the mail room (because I have to mail stuff pretty often), which I consider to be an accomplishment. Take your time to get used to your office space. Don’t hesitate to ask someone if you don’t know where to go or where you are. It’ll probably take you at least a day to find your way to your office!
- There will be times you won’t be doing anything. The only thing I had been told to expect about my first week as an intern is that there might be “dead times” when I won’t be doing anything productive. I’ve spent a couple of hours my first week staring at my inbox, waiting for something to happen. Sometimes everything will happen at once, but there are some other times where nothing is happening at all. Chances are your supervisor won’t always have tasks on hand for you, because you might not be ready to take on such projects. It’ll come in time.
- It’s okay not to know everything. I’ve been asked a couple of time by my supervisor if I knew how to do this or that. I did a few times, but most of the time I didn’t. It’s okay not to know. Your classes don’t show you the “real life” stuff. That’s what internships are for! You might have learned things during your classes in college, but everything that you’ve learned won’t always be useful. Internships are a great place to learn what your next job might be like.
- You probably won’t be sleeping much the night before. I don’t know about you, but I was a nerve ball the night before my internship started. And you what to know the worst part? It’s not even the internship itself that was stressing me out! I was in a new city, I didn’t know anyone, and I didn’t know which bus to take to get to my internship (which is what was stressing me out so much). As you might imagine, I didn’t get much sleep that night. Try to prepare in advance so you don’t have to stress the night before.
- Have confidence in what you have to offer. There were many times in my first week where I thought I just wasn’t up to the task. The previous intern seemed to have done an incredible job, and I was starting to wonder if they had made the right decision in hiring me. Maybe my interview wasn’t true to who I was? But I still tried and gave it the best I’ve got. For instance, I was asked to brainstorm a visual for an invite to an event the company was organizing every week. It’s a big thing that unites over 200 people across the country. I checked for inspiration online and tried to follow the guidelines that were given me, and you know what? The VP approved what I submitted! Now, the invitation is going to be sent by email to these very important people next week!
- Keep an open mind. Maybe you had already had built-up expectations about your internship. Maybe some tasks were mentioned in your interview, or maybe you had built an idea based on what you had read in the job offer. While some of your expectations might become true, there are so many other things you probably hadn’t expected! In my case, it’s translation. I didn’t know I would have to translate so many things! As a communications major, writing comes easily. But translation is something else entirely…
- You’ll probably have a lot of emails in your inbox already. Okay, fun fact: the first time I sat down at my desk and turned on my computer, I already had 28 emails waiting for me in my inbox. And 4 voicemails. Yeah, I freaked out a little bit. If your supervisor has been awaiting you for a long time, chances are they will already have filled you in with projects and will have sent you a lot of emails about it. Don’t freak out. You got this.
- It’s okay to make mistakes. That’s so important! As a perfectionist, that’s definitely something that’s hard for me to let go. It’s okay not to be perfect on your first try. It’s normal to make mistakes. You are still learning! Give yourself some time to adapt. Don’t compare yourself to people who have been working there for YEARS. You’ve been here for DAYS, it’s normal not to be on the same level! Remember that this is a learning opportunity and that you should make the best of it!
- Your ideas are encouraged. Don’t be afraid to speak up! Your supervisor will more than likely want to know what you think of this or that and will even ask you to be creative. Don’t hesitate to speak your mind and try new things.
- Join the office’s traditions. It’s possible that the team you’re joining will already have its own traditions. For me, it’s Sock Swag Friday and on Fridays, we were jeans. That’s two things I hadn’t prepared for, and, when Friday came, I was wearing plain black socks and a pair of black pants. Not very fun. Try to join in and have fun with your colleagues! This will help you build your relationship with them.
I am very excited for this new adventure that is this internship, and I cannot wait to share more of it with you guys!
Do you have any questions about internships? What was your first week at your own internship like?