Starting the Internship
There is a wealth of professional advice, tips, tricks, and training for how to search for an internship of your choice, how to prep for that humbling first interview, and also how to secure and accept the final offer.
But how do you actually start the internship?
I started my internship on May 14th, and bright-eyed and bushy-tailed I walked into my new manager’s office and expected… what? What did I expect from this position? Yes, we spoke on the phone about the projects I would be undertaking, but nothing can be verbalized about how to fit into an organization. Especially when your term is a quick three months. How do you integrate yourself into the culture of an organization quickly, effectively, and smoothly such that you (and the host company) both benefit from the engagement?
It’s all about planning. Coming into that first meeting you need to have a plan. The following is a list of steps to take for day-one as MBA Intern:
- Treat your first day as an extended interview. Wear your most comfortable and conservative suit until you get to know the work environment.
- Understand what is expected of you. Ask ahead of time what projects you’ll be working on. Hopefully, you’ve signed an agreement of sorts that specifies what the host organization expects of you. This will give you some fodder to ask questions pertaining to these projects.
- Ask questions. Remember that every workplace has its own way of doing things, and it’s easier to ask how things have been done before than start the work over again from scratch.
- Be innovative. If the questions you’ve asked shed light on the fact that the way things have been done in actuality aren’t effective, do something about it. Create something new. These type of volunteer projects will help you get noticed, but don’t neglect any assigned work.
- Smile a lot and be friendly. Get to know your co-workers and what their interests are.
- Use your lunch hours to get together with your current co-workers, although it may be tempting to meet up with your former ones or classmates.
- Pay attention to the grapevine, but don’t contribute to it. You don’t want to gain a reputation as a gossip monger.
- Don’t complain about your boss, your office mate, any co-workers, or your previous job.
- Continue to arrive early and don’t rush out the door at the end of the day.
- Keep a positive attitude and an open mind. Your life has changed and it will take getting used to.
Starting a new role – even an internship – can cause a lot of stress. You’ll make it harder on yourself if you try to do everything on the first day. Spend plenty of time getting to know your new culture. Your manager doesn’t expect you to create full value for the company during your first week, so take it slowly. Have a plan, and revisit the plan daily to keep you on track to get out of the experience what you originally planned for. Try to focus on a few small victories that will help you establish credibility and visibility within the organization.
Remember that an internship is a learning experience. Test the waters and determine what the best way is to integrate into a new company. You’ll need to know this after the end of your MBA program, so what better place and time to start but now!