Tips before starting an internship
Hello, everyone! I’m Cecilia Arteaga. I am one of two interns at Lake Mead National Recreational Area as part of the 2017 Latino Heritage Internship Program. As Communications Specialists under the Public Affairs department, some of what we’ll be working on is developing a communications plan for the Hispanic community of Lake Mead, creating or translating helpful signage in Spanish, planning events during Latino Conservation Week and enjoying the adventure!
Before joining the team at Lake Mead, I was a Career Ambassador at Pepperdine University’s Career Center where I helped students with resumes, cover letters and job search strategies. I was also chapter president of the Public Relations Student Society of America. We hosted industry professionals on campus and attended national conferences where we learned more about professional development, especially in the communications field. I am looking forward to sharing and putting into practice all that I’ve learned on campus and while at my four previous internships!
I’m excited for all the fun activities I’ll get to do while working at the Lake Mead headquarters during the next 10 weeks but my work began before the first day at the office…
Here are some tips I’ve heard and learned along the way about how to prepare for the first day:
What to do
- Schedule and complete a call with your supervisor to ask some questions but do some of your own research first. Some logistical questions to ask are about what you should bring (suggestions below), who you’ll be working with, and what the schedule will be like – for the first few weeks, the entire summer, or just any typical day.
- Set up a Google Alert for the organization or topics in the industry. This way, you can get daily, weekly or as-it-happens updates on news related to where you’ll be working. For example, I set up alerts for “Lake Mead National Recreational Area,” “National Park Service,” and “water safety.”
What to research
- Search online for current events in the organization or industry, in case the alerts miss something.
- Check out the organization’s website and social media – maybe turn on notifications for the new posts too. Swing by its Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube pages. Be sure to understand the mission and messages.
- For example, the mission of the National Park Service is to “preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.” Before your first day, you can start to see how you’ll fit in the big picture.
- Learn more about your supervisor and the leadership team because most likely you’ll be introduced to them in person sometime soon and so let’s make sure you already know a bit about them, especially in case you bump into someone new in the hallway.
What to ask
- Demonstrate that you have, at minimum, visited the website! Think critically and with some nuance, but also consider all the scenarios logistically. Question to ask yourself: How will I actually make this happen?
What to wear
- A smile 🙂
- Let your enthusiasm shine, even more than those clean and shiny shoes.
- Ask your supervisor, during the call or over email, about the dress code. Take a look at what others are wearing in photos on the website or social media. If you’re still unsure, know that it’s better to be overdressed and too formal than too casual on your first day.
What to “where”
- Find out where you’ll be staying if you’re getting housing in a new location.
- Conduct an online search for the closest hospital, convenience or grocery store and perhaps a gym too.
- Practice your commute. If you’re walking, wear the same shoes you’d wear on your way to work. If you’re driving, try it once with the morning rush hour traffic (I’m from LA and that’s very much a thing!). If you’re taking public transportation, ride it to make sure your pass works and you find the correct stops.
- Use The Weather Channel and Waze apps for updates on weather and traffic, respectively. Google Maps and CityMapper (DC, LA and SF only) are great resources for public transportation routes.
- Apart from getting the expected arrival time, understand the expectations you have of the internship, for yourself and what your supervisor expects of you too.
What to bring
- Notebook and pen
- Documentation and paperwork
- An extra shirt?
- Your experiences and wisdom gained…
- A curious and eager mind
- Passionate corazón
As a society, we place a lot of emphasis on “first.” It’s the feeling of something new, of change. It’s an opportunity to make a first impression. But most of all, it’s the beginning of a new chapter and you’re writing it in permanent marker. You are bold. You are strong. You are prepared. You are going to make a long-lasting impact in this world.