How to Kick Ass in the First Months of a New Job or Internship


During your first few months, your goal is to get the lay of the land. You want to take stock in everyone, what they do, and—most importantly—how they work. Even if you’ve had another internship or job, every job is distinct.

  • Observe everything. Ask questions, take notes, and be curious about people and what they do. 
  • Stay positive. Be willing to say, “you got it” with a smile. The most important impression you can make is to show an employer you are not afraid to work hard, dive into challenges, and put in the dedication to get it done right. 
  • Be present. Social media is a nice distraction, especially when you might not have much to do at work, but do your best to stay off of it. Some jobs require the use of social media which then, by all means use it – but do your best to avoid “killing time” in your first few months. 
  • Over-communicate. There is always something more you can be working on and it’s your job to help figure out what else needs to be done. Communicate to your manager when you need more to do or when you’re unsure of what takes priority. 
  • Be detail-oriented. Details can make or break your career. Yes, you want to be a big-picture thinker someday, but if you can’t master the menial tasks, you won’t be able to move up the chain. Spell check your work. Ensure you got a meeting room for the event invite. Double-check the lunch order to make sure it’s all there. Yes, those are small, boring tasks. But if you have strong attention to detail, your managers will notice and start breathing a sigh of relief they don’t have to worry about you. 
  • Remember to do things. Do what you say you’re going to do. If your manager asks you to do something by a certain time, for the love of all that is good, write it down. Capture everything and write it all down. It’s so annoying to repeat yourself so help your manager out by doing your best to remember what is asked of you. 
  • Google what you don’t know. Asking questions is good, but figure out what questions you need your manager to help with and ones you can answer on your own. The more you can figure out on your own, the better. 
  • Be patient. Be kind to yourself when it’s tough. Stay strong because it will be rough and you’ll feel overwhelmed sometimes. Breathe! Seriously, it will become easier once it all becomes more familiar. I promise.
  • Take responsibility. First off, everyone screws up. If you screw up, own up to it. Honesty is critical in any organization. If you made a mistake, don’t try to hide it or apologize profusely (unless you made a really bad error). Instead, just approach your manager honestly with the issue and your proposed solution.