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So, you’ve landed an internship, eh? And now you’re worried about looking unprepared on your first day. Maybe your internship starts next week, or maybe it doesn’t start for several months. Regardless, you still have time to properly prepare. 

The question is… what should you do to prepare for your internship—the right way?

The prep process isn’t as complicated as you may think, yet it’s not commonly practiced by interns. It takes commitment and dedication to be successful. 

If you want to show up to your internship on day one and impress your hiring manager and team, these five steps can help you make this happen. 

You may also be interested in How An Internship Can Help Your Future Tech Career

Step #1: Stay Connected With Your Hiring Manager

It’s often the case that college students are hired for an internship several months prior to the internship beginning. When this is the case, it’s very easy to become disconnected from the hiring manager and the company that hired you. 

Many hiring managers (or the human resources department) will stay in touch with their interns; however, there are quite a few who don’t do a good job of this. I know, because I’ve fallen into this camp on a few occasions with interns I’ve hired.  

So, you need to take ownership over the situation, and reach out to your hiring manager on a consistent basis. Set yourself a monthly reminder to check-in and see how things are going with the team. You can also use this as an opportunity to give a brief update on how your semester is going.

Don’t be overbearing (by reaching out too frequently), and don’t turn your emails into novels. Your hiring manager is busy with a lot on their plate, and you should respect this. If you keep your messages on point, it will keep you engaged, and the majority of hiring managers will appreciate it. 

Step #2: Gain A Full Understanding Of The Tech You’ll Be Working With  

One of your first emails to your hiring manager needs to have a specific purpose. This purpose is to gain a complete understanding of the primary technologies and software (or hardware) you’ll be working with during your internship. 

Once you have this information, you’ll be able to move on to step #3 and begin your personal growth process. 

If this was fully covered during your interview, then you may not need to ask this question. Yet, I feel that it’s a good idea to at least confirm what you believe you’ll be working on in your first email. 

The last thing you want to do is spend countless hours studying a software package that you won’t actually be using during your internship. 

Step #3: Dig In Deep To The Technologies You’ll Be Using

Once you have a solid understanding of what tech you’ll be working with during your internship, you need to seek out resources to help you learn. 

This could be YouTube videos, a training platform (such as Udemy or Linda), or it could be good old fashioned white papers. You need to determine how you learn best, and then leverage that channel to begin absorbing as much information as possible.

The goal of this training is to position yourself as knowledgeable enough to deliver results immediately during your internship.

I’ve had interns who showed up and needed nearly the entire 10-week internship to finally become comfortable with the technology they were using. I’ve had other interns who showed up on day one, and they completely grasped the technology—and they needed very little oversight.   

Which of these two types of interns do you think were more impressive? 

Take pride in your continued education. 

One other thing… you can also spend time working on your soft skills. This could include some courses or training on communication, leadership, and so on. Soft skills are always an important part of making your internship successful, so don’t ignore this. 

Step #4: Prepare Your Morning Routine

I’m a big proponent of structure and organization, and the best way to do this is by designing your own purposeful morning routine. Rolling out of bed 30 minutes before you need to be to work, and showing up just in time is a bad way to operate. 

Think about the things that are important to you, and make those a part of your routine. Do you like to exercise? Then, add that to your morning routine. Do you like to read? Then, add that to your morning routine. Do you like to play an instrument? Then, add that to your morning routine.

You get the picture.

Essentially, you need to work backwards from the time you need to be at work, and document what you’ll do every minute of the morning until then. 

For example:
  • 5:30am: Wake-up
  • 5:35am-6:00am: Read
  • 6:00am-6:45am: Exercise
  • 6:45am-7:00am: Breakfast
  • 7:00am-7:45am: Get ready for work
  • 7:45am-8:00am: Commute to work
  • 8:15am: Start work 

Again, make your own routine, and stick to it. Just think about how much you will have accomplished before you even get to work. Morning routines set your day up for success, plus it ensures you consistently get to work on-time. 

Step #5: Take A Practice Run Of Your Commute To Work

In order to know how much time to allot for your commute, it’s best practice to give it a test drive (or ride). If you’re in a big city and you’ll be using public transit, then you should go through the same steps you’d take on a work day.

If your internship is in another city than where you live, then you’ll have to do this test commute once you’re living there (which may be only a day or two before you start work). 

The last thing you want is a surprise as to how long it takes to get to work. Google Maps isn’t always going to be right, so figure it out for yourself. 

The Bottom Line

By taking an active role in preparing for your internship, you’ll be miles ahead of 99% of other interns. Most interns will do absolutely nothing to prepare between internship offer acceptance and day number one on the job. 

As I said above, it’s not hard, yet it will take conscious action on your part. 

It’s up to you to be in the 1%.


Ryan has been heavily involved in the world of Information Technology and entrepreneurship since the early 2000s. From small business consulting to Fortune 500 IT leadership, Ryan has a wide array of tech industry knowledge. Ryan has his BBA and MBA from the University of Iowa. Connect with Ryan on Twitter or Instagram.

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