Tips for the First Day of Your Internship

People sitting at desks on first day of an internship

When you’re getting ready for the first day of an internship, there’s a lot to consider! You want to present a professional image that lines up with how you came across in your interview, but how do you know what to expect in a new environment?

We’ve covered all your bases so you can focus on being excited and putting your best foot forward. Check out our tips for the first day of your internship and our downloadable cheat sheet, below.

Dress Professionally

First impressions are important! You’ve already wowed the recruiter and hiring manager during the interview process, but it doesn’t stop there. On the first day of an internship you’re going to meet the rest of the office and you’ll need to dress to impress.

If you aren’t sure what the office dress code is, think back to what the recruiter was wearing during your interview. Some offices require business professional attire, such as a suit and tie, while others range from business casual (slacks) to relaxed (jeans). When in doubt, it’s always better to be overdressed. 

Even if you’re working in a casual environment, it’s a good idea to lean towards professional dress on your first day. Your outfit should consist of slacks or an appropriate length skirt, a button-down shirt or blouse, and a blazer or suit jacket. If you’re working in a white-collar office, pair a tie with your outfit as well. For shoes, women can choose heels or flats but should stay away from backless or open-toed shoes. Men should wear dress shoes, and no one should choose sneakers! 

Bring Materials

What’s even better than your resume saying that you’re prepared, detail-oriented, and professional? Showing your new manager that you are! On the first day of your internship, arrive equipped with a few items that will set you up for success.

The items you should bring with you are:

  1. Pen
  2. Notepad 
  3. Padfolio
  4. Important Documents 

Check-in before your first day and confirm what the company requires you to bring with you. In many countries, you will likely need to provide documentation verifying your right to work. Additionally, some organizations may ask that you provide your own laptop.

Use your notepad or padfolio to take detailed notes about your responsibilities. If your supervisor is showing you how to complete a task, make a list of the steps that you can refer back to later. The training materials that you are creating for yourself will be helpful throughout the length of your internship.

Our team loves the Paper Mate Inkjoy Gel Pens, which come in all different colors. Fun or colorful pens are a great way to add a personal touch to a professional environment. 

Padfolios are great for keeping your notepad, pens, business cards, and documents together in one place. Think of a padfolio as a professional binder; everything you need is held in a sleek, good looking package. Our favorites are the AHGXG Padfolio (with an external pocket!) and the STYLIO Padfolio which has over 1,600 reviews on Amazon.

If you prefer a notepad or notebook, Amazon Basics makes one that’s modern and durable. This DesignWorks notebook features a marble cover and is available in black and white. Looking for something fun? The Studio Oh! Notebook Trio has some great options.

Arrive Early

Just like you would for an interview, plan to arrive 5-10 minutes early on the first day of your internship. 

Avoid being more than 15 minutes early, as your supervisor will most likely have their own work that they need to complete before you arrive, and they may feel rushed to greet you.

If you’re starting early in the morning, give yourself extra time to get to the building. You don’t want to get stuck in traffic or end up late because you’re searching for a parking spot. 

Complete Our Sheet

We’ve put together a downloadable cheat sheet for the first day of an internship! A lot of information will be thrown at you and this sheet will help you keep track of what’s important. All you’ll need to do is print it out and fill in the blanks.

If this is your first time working in an office environment, you may be unfamiliar with how a professional organization runs. Even if you’ve had an internship before, every company functions differently, and things may be done in a way you’re not used to.

Make a note of what your login information is for your computer and any websites or platforms that you’ll be using.

You’ll also want to confirm your schedule, the office’s hours of operation, and who you should contact in case anything comes up. Take note of your supervisor’s email address and phone number. Figure out who’s who in your department, and the organization as a whole!

If your internship is paid, feel free to ask about the organization’s pay dates. (Who doesn’t want to know when their direct deposit is going to land in their bank account?)

Ask questions. Chat with your supervisor and find out if there’s any other important information that you should know, and then make a note of it! Since your internship will only last for a few weeks, or months, you want to get up to speed as quickly as possible.

Interact

Internships are a great opportunity to build your professional network. When you’re meeting staff members, be friendly. You never know who you may run into later along in your career. 

On the first day of your internship, you’ll meet a lot of people. It may take a few days, but you’ll begin to get more comfortable once you understand who each person is and what they do in the organization. If you have a hard time remembering names, stay calm! You have a lot of people to remember, whereas they only need to remember you.

Try to speak with as many people as possible throughout your internship. Focus specifically on creating relationships within your department, but don’t forget that making friends with the administrative and support staff is one of the best things you can do to help yourself out.

Not everyone in the company will work closely with you, but how you interact during the times that your path crosses with others will shape how you are remembered within the organization. Something as simple as saying ‘hello’ in the hallway can make an impact!

Stay Off Your Phone

Part of putting your best foot forward is presenting yourself as a professional. Keep your phone in your pocket or bag during your first week to prevent anyone from thinking that you’re slacking off.

Consider this: If you use your phone once a day and your supervisor walks by you, once a day, always at the time you’re using it, they will get the impression that you’re always on your phone. It doesn’t matter that you only used it once per day, your supervisor’s perception becomes reality, and that’s hard to come back from.

Do yourself a favor and stay off your phone unless you’re on a break.

The Extras

Think about your daily habits and how they’ll be affected by this change in your routine.

If you’re the type of person who likes to eat between meals, bring some snacks along with you on the first day of your internship! Not every office has breakroom snacks or a vending machine, and you want to be able to focus on your responsibilities, not how loudly your stomach is growling. 

Offices are usually cold, so dress accordingly. If you live in a warm climate, bring a jacket with you to ensure that you’re comfortable throughout your shift.

Checking Out

At the end of your first day, check in with your supervisor before leaving. Often, interns will quietly slip out once their shift is over. If you’re working in a different office than your manager, they may not notice that it’s time for you to leave. Checking out is not only polite, but it allows them the opportunity to give you any updates that you may need before your next shift.

Pro-Tip: Before you leave for the day, give a rundown of the tasks you completed and ask if there’s anything else that you can do. This is a simple way to show that you care about the opportunity and will help you build a positive relationship with your manager. 

Confirm the date and time that you will be arriving for your next shift, and then head for the door!

On your way out, say goodbye to other staff members as well. It will be appreciated that you’re friendly and engaging.


Prepping for the first day of an internship will help you walk in feeling confident! Settle on a professional outfit the night before and, on the day of, make sure to bring your padfolio with any paperwork you need.

An internship is a wonderful opportunity to create professional connections that will last throughout your career, so take the time to build relationships with people in and out of your department. 

Don’t forget to download our cheat sheet so that you’ll be prepared for the first day of your internship.

writing a letter of resignation on a computer

Writing a Resignation Letter

11 Ways to Completely Sabotage Your Interview