How to survive your first day as an intern

Good evening friends,

Guess what, I SURVIVED!! I know you had your doubts, I had a few two, but I made it out unscathed and feeling even better about my decision to choose the site that I chose. In case you’re brand new to the blog (and if you are, welcome! leave a comment or email me), I am currently in my third year of a graduate program in counseling psychology and today was my first day as an intern. Overall it was a really great first day. I was nervous, for a few reasons, but mostly because my last experience as an intern was intense, overwhelming, and critically lacking the support and supervision necessary to do this type of work. That being said, when I chose this site way back in January, I was drawn to it due to the fact that it’s internship program was extremely well organized and the site was small enough to get the care and supervision that I need to move forward in this field.

So, since I am such a survivor, here are the tips for getting through your first day as an intern:

1. Pack the night before!

That means pack your snacks, water bottle, bag, and lay out your clothes to avoid last minute wardrobe indecision. My family probably rolls their eyes a little at me during my work-night routine, but honestly, it makes my mornings so much easier, especially when little unexpected things come up.

2. Go to bed early

This may sound very reminiscent of something your mom said when you were a kid, but seriously, its a good idea. Starting off your first day on a poor nights sleep is setting yourself up to feel like junk. I know myself, and I know that I sleep poorly the night before something big or new. Knowing this, I went to bed a little earlier than usual to make for the lack of quality sleep; it helped.

3. Have a good, solid breakfast.

Another one that may remind you of mom, but this may be harder if you’re feeling nervous, jittery or rushed. Even if eating a meal isn’t on your mind, filling your tummy with good food will set you on track the rest of the day. Sometime’s when I’m stressed I’m not as hungry, but once the nervousness passes (which it always does) my stomach settles and I am more intune with my hunger patterns. Before I left I had an egg+2 whites and oatmeal; for the road I packed a mug of tea. This meal got me full enough without being too heavy and held me over until we had time for a little snack break.

4. Leave early, even if it feels too early.

The other day I did a test drive to my site during rush hour, wanting to know how long it typically takes to get there. Today, I left a bit earlier than that because of the rain and just in case. It worked out perfectly that I arrived at 8:45, yes 15 minutes early, but it allowed me to settle and switch gears before heading in. Being early also gave me a chance to reintroduce myself to the full-time staff and start playing the name game in my head.

5. Smile, and be engaged in what others are saying.

To make someone feel like you care about them and what they are saying, truly listening is key. On a day when you are meeting a bunch of new people and feeling a bit overwhelmed, allowing yourself to get wrapped up in another person’s words is so much better than being caught in the fears or nervousness in your own head. Even if you are too overwhelmed to listen, having a smile on your face and responding through body language makes others feel that you appreciate them and care about what they’re saying.

6. Share a little bit about yourself

This is an easy opportunity in a psychology related field because people always want to “get to know you a little better,” but any little bit or insight into who you are as a person (not just a professional) helps you connect. I shared a bit about my love for health and wellness and also cooking and baking and discovered that I will be working with a good group of foodies. I am already planning to bring in some baked good to next weeks staff meeting 🙂

7. When it’s all over, relax and recharge.

On my way home, I listened to music and sang to the radio. I called my mom to tell her about my day. I came home and had a little bit of me time, taking a break from talking to or being with anyone; recognize emotional fatigue when it strikes. After some down time I hit the gym with my best friend, Kristina, who is also in a similar grad program and starting her internship this week. Getting in a workout and talking to Kristina was the perfect way to recharge without reliving every minute detail of the day.

8. Put your feet up and relax.

After a yummy dinner of the soup I made yesterday

I got in my comfy clothes, put my feet up, and watched a little bit of World News, Presidential Address, and am looking forward to some Red Sox action in a few 🙂 Oh, and give yourself a little treat, you deserve it!

Tell me, what are your tips to surviving a first day?? What are you up to this evening?

Lots of love,


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4 Responses to How to survive your first day as an intern

  1. Casey says:

    Good tips, girl! I was always scared to death as an intern, so my best tip is: remember that you’re there b/c you work hard, you deserve this opportunity, and people will love you if you just respect the job, be friendly and work hard! I was SO intimidated back then, but now I wish I had had more confidence in myself.

  2. Congrats on first day! Reading this post made me have that first day of school feeling! Oh the excitement! 🙂 So glad it went well. My best advise you already gave – leave early! I was raised with the belief that if you aren’t early you are already late.

    Oh, and look cute! Nothing beats a great outfit for first day confidence.

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