Well done! You got an internship and are ready to start soon!

person adding post it to a wall in a meeting with a group of people Photo by Leon on Unsplash

There are a lot of ways to have a great experience. Let's take a look at some key steps!

Set Yourself Up For Success

Time management and planning

  • Being on time is always important but particularly in internships.

  • Make a checklist of things to take on your first day:

    • Notebook, pen, charger, ID, contracts, water bottle, lunch, mints or gum, other essentials

Pro tip: During the first week ask around to see if there’s a carpool. You'll get to use the carpool lane, it's better for the environment, AND you get to build relationships with your coworkers. Nice one, intern!

First Impressions

  • You will be introducing yourself to a lot of people in a short time. Think of this as a mini elevator pitch or highlight real.

  • Practice a 15-second and 30-second version.

  • Sample: "Nice to meet you! I am Yumi Reed, a 2nd-year political science student and member of the student government at Greendale Community College. I look forward to learning more about creating public policy while interning at City Hall."

Need advice on how to introduce yourself?

Pro tip: Keep a list of personal accomplishments: it is easy to forget and undervalue your own work! This is a great mental health exercise and will make it easier for you to share with coworkers, on applications, and when coworkers or managers ask about your interests.

What To Wear

Dress codes can vary greatly between companies, industries, and departments. They may be formally written rules or unstated social norms you are expected to figure out.

  • Check your employee handbook for a company dress code.

  • It is better to wear more formal clothes initially and adjust later on.

  • If buying new clothes buy pieces for one week and mix and match. You can always buy more later!

  • Many offices consider jeans and T-shirts appropriate but remember to keep text and designs professional.

What Does Business Casual Attire Mean? Woman and man holding up appropriate options.

Pro tip: Not a fan of clothes? Think of this as a uniform. If you have a few suits, shirts, and dresses in a set colour palette you can grab and go. Consider hanging full outfits in your closet together!


Do you have to spend a lot on clothing for work?

Google It, But Don't Be Afraid To Ask Questions

Good onboarding will cover all the main ideas, but you'll likely have questions.

  • Assume many people have the same question.

  • Avoid pretending to know things: you will only be setting yourself up for failure.

  • If you have a general industry question, Google it first. This shows initiative and you can ask more advanced questions.

  • Always keep a notebook with you. Write down questions, ideas, or things to follow up about later.

Want to see an example of good onboarding?

Pro tip: Look up common industry terms and acronyms before you start. If you are given a new task or project look up "common problems when doing _____." This is a good way to stay ahead of possible challenges!


You boss asks you to email the KPI's for your project but you don't know what KPI means. What do you do?

Understand Your Role And Responsibilities

  • Review the internship job description for skills needed and expectations.

  • Review the company's website carefully.

  • If you know who will be your supervisor take a look at their LinkedIn, online presence, or website blurb.

  • Many workplaces will have a 1-on-1 check-in meeting weekly with a supervisor to gauge progress, challenges, and concerns. Consider requesting one if it's not already part of the plan!

How to meet coworker expectations?

Pro tip: In your first couple of weeks identify an area in which you can make a difference or contribute to outside of your written role. Create a realistic goal you can accomplish a few weeks before your internship ends. This will give you time in case it is more challenging than expected and help you stand out as someone going above and beyond.

Take Action

Internships are a great opportunity to learn about a company and industry, make the most of it by:


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