Working in China

Powerful tips for your first day as an intern

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Internship in Asia

Ah, the anticipation of the first day at your internship. You’ve finally got your toe through the door in an exciting industry, and you’re ready to take that first step into the grown-up world. Before you do, it’s important to remember that the preparation doesn’t end after a successful interview. First impressions count, and there are a number of things you can (and should) do prior to that all important first day. We’ve put together a list of top tips to help you ensure your first day is not your last.

Preparing for your internship

Get some sleep the night before 

We’ve all experienced it; the closer the big day gets, the more our excitement turns to apprehension, which can have a big effect on our sleep. It might be easier said than done but try not to let nerves get the better of you and ruin your chances of sleeping well the night before.

A good night’s sleep will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the working world. If you’re really struggling to nod off, try sipping on a chamomile tea and doing something relaxing like reading a book. Whatever you do, don’t let your insomnia wind you up. Whether you get your full 7 hours or not, adrenaline is sure to kick in and help you power through that first day.   

Do your research

First days in the office are always overwhelming. For a smooth start, try and prepare some things in advance. Check the company’s website for team photos and try to familiarise yourself with the names and faces of some staff members. Scroll through the company’s social media and see what they have been up to, so you can get to grips with what’s going on.

Depending on your sector and role, it’s also a good idea to read up on industry trends and get some basic knowledge. This will help you both settle in quicker and impress your manager

Dressing the right wayBring a notebook

The road to success is paved with to-do-lists. You will no doubt be overloaded with information on your first day, so jot everything down to avoid panic later down the line. Taking notes is a simple way to show that you’re eager to learn, and it will mean you can get stuck into your role without having to keep asking questions you’ve already been given the answer to.

Dress for the occasion

If you haven’t been given a specific dress code prior to your first day, then modesty is the best first day policy. Plain coloured business casual clothes are always a safe bet to ensure you give off a good impression without being overdressed. Make sure to wear clothes and shoes you’re comfortable in – the last thing you want to be worrying about is blisters, a tight shirt or those dreaded sweat patches. 

Listen carefully 

We’re all guilty of switching off every now and again, especially when we’re being fed a lot of new information. Before you head to the office, make sure you’re alert and ready to listen and learn. This is particularly applicable to those doing an internship in a foreign language environment. Your language skills will improve drastically by the end of the internship, but don’t be afraid to admit if you’re struggling to follow everything on your first day. Of course, your manager will forgive you for not picking up on everything but showing that you’re keen to learn and listening closely will give you the best chance of success.

Don’t be late

Get off to the best start possible by ensuring that you’re on time. Or even better, early. Traffic jams are no excuse for being late, especially in Asia, where your colleagues contend with this day in day out.

Leave your apartment extra early to give yourself time to figure out your commute and find your office building. If you arrive much earlier than required, find a café nearby to grab a coffee and gather your thoughts. If you arrive a few days before your internship begins, use that time to do a practice run and find your workplace. You never know what can go wrong, particularly in a foreign country. So, if there’s one thing to remember from this, it’s that you should not leave it to the last minute to find your way.  

Meetings in China

Don’t take lunch…

Mornings are often the busiest time in offices, when staff are catching up on emails, attending meetings and setting priorities for the day. This often means you won’t get a chance to speak to many people, so take advantage of your lunch break and use this to get to know your colleagues better.

It might be a weight on your wallet, but if you want to get close to your colleagues and make the most of your experience, sharing a meal with them on your first day is important. Besides, you’ll get to try dishes you may never find on your own and find out first-hand from locals where the best restaurants in the area are.  

…but do take snacks

If you’ve never worked an office job before, you’ll find it takes time to get used to the office lunch routine. Different cultures have different mealtimes, so to make sure you don’t pass out by the time your colleagues head out for lunch or you finish for the day, stock up on snacks. If you run out of energy, you’ll find it hard to concentrate, let alone produce quality work, and that’s not a good feeling. Try to stick to healthy snacks like fruit to make sure you don’t go the opposite way and suffer a sugar crash. Your first day will quickly become your first month, and you’ll soon get used to this new routine.

Don’t gossip or complain

Some people might want to "do you a favour" and fill you in with the office gossip on your first day. Be very cautious of this; getting involved in office politics is never a good idea (7 mistakes to avoid during internships), particularly when you’re the newbie. If you inadvertently find yourself in a situation like this, the best thing to do is nod, smile, and try to change the subject. Whatever you do, don’t encourage or engage in gossip, as this could really backfire on you. Not to mention the fact that such talk could distort your view of your new workplace. The best thing to do is filter them out and make up your own mind on work life at your new company. 

Leaving a good impression

Don’t stare at your phone

You might find you don’t have much to do on your first day. Try to resist the temptation of scrolling through social media, or Instagramming your #firstdayintheoffice. Checking your phone too often or losing yourself in your news feed is not the kind of first impression you want to make, so hide your phone away and busy yourself with work-related tasks. Use your breaks to check your phone, update your family or post that all important first day picture. Try your best to be totally present and attentive on your first day – you can update your status anytime, but you only have one chance to make a first impression.

So, this is it – you’re all set for the first day of your internship! Good luck from all of us at Intern Asia. Now go get some rest!


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