Getting through the first day: a guide to doing it poorly
I go to college. Fun! I also have to take part in an internship. Maybe fun? Here’s some tips on how to get through your first day based on what I went through at LevLane.
1) Set several alarms
Step one to having a successful first day is showing up. If you’re on a typical student schedule, this is going to be tougher than it sounds. The last time I saw 7 AM was… I honestly don’t even know. But I set my alarm to go off at 7, and went to sleep at 1 as usual. I even made sure to set two, one across the room so that I have to actually get up to turn it off. While it does get me reluctantly up, I almost immediately go back to sleep with one alarm on snooze. 9 more minutes couldn’t hurt, right?
54 minutes and 6 snooze presses later, I get up for real. After getting ready, I head down Cecil B. Moore as quickly as possible while still looking cool. You know, for the ladies. It doesn’t work, as my speed walking gait is like a cross between a chicken and a rhino. Not a great look.
So yeah. Give yourself some time to get to work unless you want to join my herd of chickinos.
2) You’re not that important.
If you followed tip one, congrats! You showed up at work. Here comes hurdle two: there might be a little down time, especially if you show up early. I’m not saying you’ll be able to finish War and Peace, but you might have a half hour or so to kill. They had work to do before you got there, as well as work to do after. Example: When I was shown to my desk, the woman in charge of the interns said she would come get me in a little bit, and in the mean time, I could “go on CNN or whatever”. THIS IS A TRICK. They won’t actually check if you go on CNN and look at boring adult stuff, or go on Reddit or Twitter or World Star or whatever your time killer of choice is. Pro Tip: have the boring adult stuff open in another window so whenever they do come get you, you can impress them with how worldly you are.
3) Commit to learning a lot of names… or not.
It’s time for the tour! You need to decide right now if you are going to remember every single name, or just wing it as you move forward. I opted for the latter, and am shepherded around the agency while being introduced to people who’s name I forget literally the second I hear it. I didn’t even make it out of the conversation! Each time I finish meeting a person, I have to close with “nice to meet you… man.” Or something to that extent. Lame. As I walk, I am panicking a little bit about how I’m going to hear their names again without revealing how awful my memory is (Update: I’m still working on this. It’s not going that well).
4) If I can sound like I’m contributing, anyone can.
I am brought into a meeting to discuss the upcoming calendar. On it is a list of initials, numbers and names that mean absolutely nothing to me. But using the skills I gained through 21 years of faking it till I made it, I nod and “mmhmm” my way through the meeting. Nailed it. Everyone is definitely super impressed. Protip #2: if you chew your pen cap a little, it looks like you’re thinking hard, and not just about how plastic is surprisingly tasty.
5) You might actually have to get some work done.
Afterwards I am finally given something to do. This company wants to rebrand itself, while keeping the same initials but changing the name. Also, they don’t want to use the word “choice” because it sounds like steak. With these instructions, I am set loose.
3 hours and the majority of the “C” section of an online dictionary later, I am fairly sure that I could run a Scrabble board like nobody’s business. I am no closer to completing my task, however. Maybe after lunch something will come to me.
It didn’t. Not for a while, at least. Inspiration doesn’t strike until about 2 PM, when I finally get something down on the page. Not all the combinations are great. At one point I think about putting down the phrase “crumbly crepe platypus” just to take up space. On the other hand, some are pretty decent. I print out the best few, and head to the corner the creative department has laid claim to. Evan the copywriter says they’re not bad.
The moral of the story is, that if you take time to do it right, you’ll probably get some mild encouragement.
6) Set yourself a goal.
Know what it is you want to accomplish the next day. At LevLane you don’t get busy work or sent on coffee trips, so sometimes it might take a few days to fully complete something. Small goals are important to feeling like you got something done. For example, my goal is to get down to hitting the snooze button 5 times instead of 6.
So what does it all mean?
As you can see, your first day is vital to determining how the rest of your internship is going to go. If a company is willing to put up with your immaturity and inexperience, then you better lock that down. That’s why I’m so grateful to LevLane; with me, there’s more than usual to put up with. But I couldn’t be happier to be working here, and there’s no crew I’d rather work with. PS: I have another protip for you if you read all the way down to here. People like when you say “sure” to them. Makes them feel like they know things. You’re welcome.
I really enjoyed how honest this write-up was and I think ~95 % of the interns in the industry would agree with your take. Keep on keeping on at LevLane, George.
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George, this blog was so well written and funny! I could relate to a lot of things here, especially hitting the snooze button 6 times. The one thing I really agree with you on is taking your time on assignments so they get done the right way. Even if they do take a few days to complete it’s still such a great feeling to know you accomplished something and did a good job with it!