Transitioning from Intern to Employee: What to Expect in Your First Week

Stephanie Zipp

Congratulations! You did it, landed your first job and officially got your foot in the door. Now what?  I recently transitioned from an intern at one agency to full-time at another so Culpwrit asked me to share some insights with you.

Before the first day

Even if you are simply asked to show up on the first day “as is” there are a few ways you can mentally prepare yourself. First is to research. Although you already researched the company before your interview, revisit your findings and look up current news on your accounts. Also, it’s a good idea to look up current employees on LinkedIn and see if you will know anyone. I didn’t expect to know anyone at the agency I work for, but I ended up already knowing three people!

Plan out your outfit: Your first day is all about first impressions, and while it may sound superficial, your outfit will say a lot about you. Most agencies are business casual or just casual, but that is something you will have to confirm prior to your start date. In any case, on your first day, I would suggest dressing a bit nicer than what is expected. Go with something crisp and classic. It shows you are serious about the job and professional.

On the first day

What you can expect on your first day is a lot of meet and greets, setting up phone and email, orientations and training sessions. The number one piece of advice I would give about your first day is to smile as much as possible and show that you have a willingness to learn and a can-do attitude.

You cannot expect to remember everyone’s names the first time you meet them. Most people will understand this and will not feel offended if you need to ask them again. Unfortunately for me, the office I work in does not have nametags on each cube. To aid in this process, one of my tricks is to restate the person’s name as soon as they introduce themselves. For example: Other employee: “Hi Stephanie, I’m John.” Me: “Hi John, it’s nice to meet you.”

This little tip has been an incredible help to me. If I am having a particularly hard time remembering a name I will jot it down with a note saying something I noticed that is unique about them, such as, Kate: raspy voice.

Your first week

There is no doubt in my mind that you will be overwhelmed in your first week. Understand this and remember that you won’t be using all of the information presented to you right away. Focus on organizing all of the paperwork you are handed, as well as the emails/word documents you receive. Better to achieve sooner than later, come up with an organizational system as to how you will file everything away and what your style for taking notes will be. Everyone has their own way that works for them, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask another colleague about how they organize their work to get some ideas.

My last piece of advice: It’s never too early to start contributing. My supervisor was very impressed by my ability to produce ideas in an impromptu brainstorm on my third day when I had not even been given any “real” work yet. You are a fresh mind to them and they are eager to see what new and creative ideas you can bring to the table.

Stephanie Zipp is an Account Coordinator at Fishman PR. She is a 2010 graduate of Carthage College where she double-majored in Communications and Public Relations.

4 thoughts on “Transitioning from Intern to Employee: What to Expect in Your First Week

  1. Great advice Stephanie, I loved the tip about contributing early on; what a great way to start your new job. Best of luck at Fishman!

  2. Even starting as an intern at a company I can vouche for much of the timeline you have outlined in this post. Very interesting. I’ll be finishing my internship soon and so I will keep your advice in mind for the future.


  3. Thank you for the advice, Stephanie.
    Do you suggest PR interns to subscribe to PRWeek? It seems very helpful, but it’s a bit pricy…Can you recommend any PR blog/ website?

    1. Rather than subscribe to PR Week, try to find the person in your office who receives it and ask if they’ll pass it along to you. You also can get headlines from the publication’s website, but the cost is steep for most entry-level practitioners. Check out the PR links on my blog, both organizations and blogs, and let me know if you find others that are valuable. My DePaul grad students are compiling a list of the best career websites that will be posted next month via Culpwrit and other social media.

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