How to conquer your first internship

Enjoy it, otherwise "fake it till you make it"!

As a senior international student in Advertising, who never had an experience in the adverting agency, I was terrified. However, I am really enjoying my internship right now. so I want to share some tips how to conquer your internship!

 The first day of the internship can be intimidating. I would say, it is always intimidating, no matter where you start working, whether it is a big company or a small start-up – entering a new team and work flow, it’s scary. However, in my case I decided to “fake it till you make it” and show everyone what I am in the right place. Walking into the office with 100 employees is hard, but you just put on your charming smile and go to the secretary.

Oh, don’t be late. Ever. I feel like as an intern it shows your unprofessional approach to your work and you poor time management skills. Also, be prepared, you will have to go through a lot of paperwork. It took me 3 hours to go through everything, to fill in every form. It also took me at least an hour to set up my working stating on my computer. Well, maybe it was so long because my log in and password wasn’t verified by IT team and I had to wait for them to come to me and solve the problem. But I didn’t sit and stare at the window (although, the view on 29th floor is amazing), I used my phone to log into the network, my working email, etc.

If you are a person who keeps a planner, great, if not, start doing it now. From the start I already had a schedule for my documents, trainings, etc. So, get a planner. I personally never felt the need to put down notes about work that I have to do, but in my internship I was grateful for Google Calendar. I never had anything planed in one day that I had during my internship. Meetings, trainings, reception, etc. Everything can get pilled up pretty quickly if you are not going to be organized. You actually feel like you are put together, like an adult, when you have your schedule in front of you, and you don’t have to guess what time is your meeting.

Don’t be intimidated by the work that you are given. Yes, it feels like a lot of information, but once you start going through it, it will start to make sense. Plus, usually everyone is very supportive and helpful if you have any questions. Don’t be afraid to ask them! My supervisor actually said that when an intern is asking questions, it shows the interest to learn from a person, which makes the team want to put more effort into explaining information to you!  You learn, you practice, you are allowed to make mistakes. But be cool about it and don’t take everything personally. Nobody is perfect. Be like a sponge in your in workplace and use the great opportunity to learn. .

Also, the work in an agency has ebbs and flows – like mine. There was a period when I was coming to the internship and wasn’t asked to do anything. Not because I didn’t ask (I did. A lot.), but because of the legal information that media planners are handling (client’s budgets), so because it was a period when everyone was doing budgets, I couldn’t help them. However, I asked other teams in the agency if they want me to help them with anything, which they were very grateful for. I helped on the reception and management team. I got to know more people in the agency. Now I physically don’t have time to help everyone who asks me. I have to turn down assignments because I am helping senior associates. It is important to find a balance in your abilities to help.

Overall, I would suggest trying to overcome your fears. Internships are fun and exciting! Overwise, fake it till you make it – it will all be worth it!


  1. Elena, I thought that this was a great way to look back at your internship experience! I was also very scared going in my first day and I had similar troubles logging into my account the first day. I think that you offered great advice to someone about to start an internship. I never realized how important a calendar would be either until I started working two internships, was a full time student, and involved in many clubs and organizations on campus…it gets very hectic! It sounds like you accomplished a lot which is awesome.

  2. I love that quote “fake it to you make it” because honestly sometimes that’s just what you have to do. I also agree with you, I was so nervous my first day, when I met the CEO I could have fainted but I also chose to “fake it till I made it” and here I am, alive and finishing up my internship. Love that you gave some advice so that other peers who have not had an internship know a little bit about what to except! Glad to see this internship was a great learning experience for you!

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