This post was written by one of CooperKatz's 2015 summer interns, Jake Walker.
If there is one date that people almost never forget, for better or worse, it’s the first one.
For most people, first dates go one of two ways. There’s the “couldn’t-have-gone-better,” fairytale-like date comprised of great food, events and company. But then there is the “get-me-out-of here,” complete face-plant date. Having recently started an internship with CooperKatz, I realized there are uncanny similarities between first dates and starting an internship.
- First impressions are like Duracell batteries; they seem to last forever: Your first day at an internship doesn’t start just when you open the office doors; it starts long before that. You have to figure out the hours, start and end dates, company policies, etc.
A good intern will research the company they plan on working with — just like a good date will try and get to know you before they meet you. A good intern will also know how to get to the office and get there on time. Punctuality in the workplace (and in dating) is key. Tardiness — especially on your first day — leaves a bad impression.
What about dress? Well, wouldn’t it be awkward if you planned a date at a fancy restaurant and your date turns up in a cat t-shirt? Nothing against cats, but there is a time and a place for all things. Know the dress code of your office.
- Keep calm and carry on: You’ve perhaps felt the pressure of a first date. You want it to go smoothly, but you have no idea what to expect. Symptoms of pre-date jitters include knots in your stomach, clammy hands and a shaky voice. I bet you’ve felt one of those symptoms yourself starting a new internship. Over your first few days, you have to be brought up to speed on… well, everything.
Some degree of comfort can be found in knowing that (contrary to what you may think) it’s the same for everyone. Your colleagues realize you aren’t going to be a seasoned pro on your first day – that’s like your date expecting you to know what to order them off the menu before you have even asked the typical, “so, tell me about yourself” questions. Keep calm and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Guess who? One of the more awkward moments in life is when someone you’re attracted to introduces themselves and then you quickly realize that, in that moment of nervous excitement, you’ve already forgotten their name. Painful awkwardness ensues as you ask them to repeat it, if you even ever pluck up the courage to ask them again.
This is just as true in dating as it is in a new workplace. It’s easy to find yourself asking, “Now, was that Bob in HR or Rob in Accounting?” If you aren’t careful, this can come back to bite you.
Just as I mentioned earlier, you will not be expected to remember everything straight away — names included. One of the best ways to remember names on the first go round is to repeat the name in your head five or six times when they tell it to you, then use it early in conversation.
- I’m loving it, but are they? You arrive home after a first date. Your roommates ask you how it went, to which you exclaim, “It went really well!” Your roommates’ follow-up question is more difficult to answer; “But do they think it went as well as you do?” It’s not hard to go from feeling like the king of the hill to asking, “What if they absolutely hated it?”
As an intern, make sure you are singing from the same song sheet as your employer. Meet regularly with supervisors to check that your efforts are reflecting company goals and that the work you are doing is acceptable. Ask how you can improve.
Like dating, choosing an internship is a massive decision — potentially a life-changing one. On my first day at CooperKatz, although I definitely found myself falling victim to some typical first-day mistakes, I felt that I had made the right choice. Now that first impressions are made, nerves have long settled and names are remembered, I know I made the right decision.
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