Arrive early, or at least on time.
Dress smartly – at least to any declared dress code and in the absence of one, smartly. You can always dress down on day 2 but recovering from a poor first impression takes a lot longer.
Take a notepad and pen/pencil with you so you can note anything important, you will receive a lot of information on your first day and during your induction, great if you have a really good memory, if not keep brief notes. You can also use a tablet pc or phone but we suggest you don't use anything that does not come to life almost immediately so it does not look as though you are doing something else while someone is talking to you.
Is the job you are given broadly what you were offered, if it is not and you are unhappy – be positive but talk to your supervisor about it.
Get to know your industrial supervisor and people you report to. Find out how and when you should contact them if you have questions or issues and, most importantly, when and how they want progress updates from you. Try not to always go to these people with problems, your problem solving ability initiative will be questioned if you do. Also remember that your supervisors are busy people and have their own jobs, priorities and crises to deal with.
What does your Department/immediate team do for fun? Is this something you want to and can join in with? Engagement will help you fit in.
Try to clarify the company’s expectations of you and how they will measure your performance. You want a good experience and good review at the end. Understanding where the goal is will help you score! You also want a good reference at the end so you should have quite an incentive to wanting to be seen to have done a good job.
Check that you have an end of internship review/performance appraisal. If one is not already planned ask if you can have one. You might also ask if you can give a presentation on your work to which your academic supervisor (if appropriate) could be invited. One or more periodic reviews during your internship would also be useful as a check on whether expectations on both sides are being met and whether perceptions of performance are aligned (for example – you think you are doing a great job, your supervisor thinks it only average – knowing this part way through allows you to discuss and make changes before the more crucial end of internship appraisal).
Don’t push your academic institution’s position in the league tables – your company and the people you work with will judge your actual behaviours and performance rather than where you come from.
Working patterns – you have probably been told or have read the official working hours – what really matters is the “normal practice” – what hours does everyone keep? Do people leave before the boss? Do people leave early on Fridays? Is lunch strictly an hour? Your best advice is to be professional and work to your own standard provided it matches or exceeds normal practice.
If you are not told directly, check what standard of general behaviour is expected of you and what rules and regulations you need to adhere to. Clarify anything you are unclear of. This should include the informal rules as well as the formally documented rules.
Use a paper based or online diary to set record your meetings, deliverables, deadlines – a diary can be a good project management tool and can automatically send you reminders.
When you are invited to a meeting turn up on time and be prepared for it. Read any papers ahead of the meeting and, if your input is expected, prepare it. In meetings get into the habit of turning your mobile onto silent – that is unless you adopt this good policy completely during working hours. Your phone sounding to indicate a personal call, text or email every few minutes may annoy your fellow workers. Constantly looking at it creates the impression you are more interested in your social life than your work.
If you bring in your own lunch think carefully about the smell it might leave behind.