How to nail the first day of your internship

What happens when you actually do nail that interview, and land yourself that coveted position? Here are 10 ways to nail your first day.

First impressions are everything, and if you’re like any normal person, you might be either excited or nervous for your first day interning. If you really want to impress your colleagues and get a stunning reference - and maybe even a paid gig - here are 10 ways to nail your first day.

Pay attention

Regardless of whether the role is paid or unpaid, you don’t want to be caught out on your phone when you were told to do a certain task. Showing that you can stay dedicated and attentive to the task at hand tells your employer that you’re taking the internship seriously.

Be confident

Just go into work like you’re a full-time employee, and don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation where appropriate. This can make you more approachable, and will help you mesh in with the other employees. Skills can be taught, but a good attitude cannot.

Be proactive

Remember all the new things that you’re being taught, even if they seem simple or menial to you at the time. These tasks come in handy when you don’t have anything pressing to do - you can get a head start on them, and really impress your fellow workers with your initiative. Not only will they really appreciate your help, but this is an easy way to make yourself a valued part of the team.

Link uni with work

Interning in the field while you’re studying is the perfect opportunity to maximise your learning. Although this might not apply to everyone, it will enhance your study and working experience as you will be able to see the link between theory and practice.


As unethical as it may seem, eavesdropping is actually a very useful little habit to pick up during your internship. My organisation encouraged me to eavesdrop on their conversations as sometimes they didn’t have the time to directly teach me the lingo or the progress of their clients.

An example of this was when two of the employees were discussing the “reach” of a publication that gave media exposure to one of our clients. I learnt that the “reach” is how many people may have seen the article, and that the client was featured in The Sydney Morning Herald, which meant that they gained significant media exposure. Even though I had nothing to do with that client, i learnt a lot about my organisation’s accomplishment solely through eavesdropping.

Be open-minded, but know your rights

While at your internship, you will be given a whole range of new responsibilities and access, so try to say yes to as many opportunities as possible! After all, you’re here to learn the skills that your degree can’t teach you. If you are unsure about anything, always read the FairWork stipulations to make sure you’re not being exploited.

Think creatively

When given the opportunity to provide your input, try and think outside the box. Your employers will appreciate that you’re trying to offer creative solutions or options that others may not have thought of. A little enthusiasm goes a long way!

Absorb new information

Osmosis should be your new favourite word. From learning how to use a new program, to becoming an expert in navigating phone interactions, to even remembering who the editor-in-chief of a major publication is; it’s important to keep learning and absorbing information whenever and wherever you can.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you’re not sure what to do, don’t stay quiet. It’s such an effort to re-do the work if it was not done properly. It’s better to ask for clarification and do the job right than stay silent - your employees will appreciate it. You learn something, and save your employer time in the long run. Communication is always key.

Be in the moment

It may sound cheesy - but have fun. Not everyone has managed to get this internship, so wherever you are, try and make the most out of your industry experience and enjoy it while it lasts.

Happy interning!

Calvin Lu is a first-year Public Communications and BCII student. His claim to fame is being able to name all fifty states of the US (with five minutes prep time), and knowing the locations of Sydney’s hidden gems. He is often described as a ‘paternal figure’, to which he is perpetually conflicted.