Dive Right In


It’s safe to say the first few days of an internship will consist of getting to know the company, your coworkers and the general ins and outs of the office. If you’re lucky though, like I have been, you’ll be assigned projects to spearhead as soon as you start.

Having had an internship experience prior to this one, I figured the first few days would be an “acclimation period”. To my delighted surprise, however, I was given a project upon arrival to craft a communications plan for one of our affiliate programs. I had barely figured out how to hook up my wireless mouse and where to find the extra pens when I dove into this project.

If this sort of thing scares you, let me give you some insight on how to deal with the pressure when you’re just starting an internship:

Do your research.

Take a deep breath and start investigating. Make sure you have all the information you need to complete the task. Read all the background materials before starting in on a project.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Your boss is there as a resource. If you aren’t sure about something, reach out for more direction. You’ll feel better having the right information up front than having to correct a mistake later.

Be confident.

Of any piece of advice I could give you, this would be the one worth repeating. You’ve already landed that internship, and your boss knows you have what it takes to do the job. Be confident that you have the skills to do awesome work, and it will reflect in your project.

Keep these tips in mind as you hit the ground running and you’ll be more prepared when the pressure is on. And with that, I’m off to present my plan to my boss and the CEO.

-Kati VanLoo

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6 Responses to Dive Right In

  1. jbrosy says:

    Based on how your personal blog is set up, it seems you are keen on helpful how-to’s and tip-giving. I really like how you didn’t stray from that and included some useful tips on this blog post! I can definitely relate to your feeling of trying to figuring out the ins and outs of your new place of work, I’m still trying to figure out which drawer they keep their silverware at my office. Sometimes it seems businesses are just so excited to have their new intern, they only focus on the work-related aspects and forget some other important ones. I think your tip “don’t be afraid to ask questions” is crucial to keep in mind because as much as we want to already be a pro at our internships, we have to learn how to get there. Thanks for the helpful tips and for sharing your experience, Kati!

  2. Great advice — I especially appreciate the “Don’t be afraid to ask for questions” remark. I think I would something I read, which was to the effect of, “A sure sign of intelligence is knowing when to ask for help.” It beats internalizing your problems and not receiving any guidance. I hope your presentation with the CEO went well!! It sounds like you have the confidence and self-reliance of a solid colleague.

  3. nikkimaroney says:

    Kati – Awesome job! I can definitely relate to you as I’m sitting behind my office computer trying to figure out how to set up my new, well, three week old phone. I think that confidence is key when diving right into an internship because without it, we are second guessing our every move. My biggest hurdle thus far has just been learning everyone’s name in my company. Believe it or not, in the communications industry we must be the masters of this, even if we’re not naturals at it. Well thanks so much for the words of wisdom! You’re off to a great start and any employer would be lucky to have you.

  4. robbydavis23 says:

    Of all the pieces of advice you gave I feel as though I have the toughest time asking for help. For me, when I ask a question I assume that nobody will have the time to step away from their project and assist me. I also don’t want to be seen as a nuisance when I’m the “new guy.” What I’ve learned thus far is that people generally do have a willingness to help whenever they have an opportunity to do so. They would much rather have you ask them a question than watch you fail.

  5. wujesi says:

    Thank you for your blog post, it was interesting to read because I like knowing that there is a community of students, close to home going through the same day to day pressures and tasks at our internship sites. I came into my internship not knowing too much about the field of optimization and user-experience. It’s a pretty tech-cultured place and I felt overwhelmed. I gave my self a chance to sit down and really research and I felt better. I also asked ALOT of questions, which is one of your recommendations. I always felt like asking questions would be bothersome and annoying- but it’s totally the opposite.

  6. Asking questions was one of the things that I truly struggled with during the first few days of my internship. I think I had some irrational fear that if I didn’t know what they were asking me to do that I would be fired or looked down upon. But in fact the opposite happened, they expected me to ask questions and I think were even quite concerned when I didn’t! No matter how scary asking questions can be you can either come off as uninterested in what they are asking you to do, or that you completely do not understand anything they are saying. Ever since then I have been trying to challenge myself to ask questions when I need clarification on something, no matter how embarrassing it feels. Thank you for linking to your personal blog! Since this is my first internship, I look forward to reading more of your advice on how to be successful at an internship.

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