Internship Starter Pack: Your complete guide to surviving work life

By Engine Room Posted 7mth(s) ago Reading Time: A few minutes


A new work experience, especially if it is your first, is intimidating for anybody. What can you do to maintain a good first impression?  What do you say to people? How will you know what to do?

The good news is, almost everyone worries about their new job, so you’re not alone. There are ways you can prepare to set yourself up for many more opportunities in the future.

We’ve got you covered here at Engine Room! With this Internship Starter Pack, we’ve compiled the top seven tips to help you ace your first working month, and created an exclusive four-part video course to help you learn how to communicate effectively. These are skills that will help you shine wherever you go, and set you on a path to becoming an A-star employee.  

Part 1: Tips to ace your first month

Do your homework before your first day

While it’s most likely you researched the company while preparing for the interview, it is good to give yourself a little refresher the night before. Go through the company background, its culture and various functions, so that you’re familiar from day one what the company’s innovations and services are. Whether it is building next-gen semiconductor chips or power plants, it is always important to remember what you’re contributing to and the impact your work will be making. 

Show up meaningfully (virtually or physically)

We know it is a much trickier situation joining a company when working from home is still the norm. It is harder to be seen when everybody’s airtime is now limited to calls or video meetings - and even then, you’ll find that many like to have their video turned off!

Make your presence felt by simply showing up on time and on screen, with energy and intention. Asking questions or being proactive in your daily tasks is one of the best ways to make your mark. The same rules apply if you have to physically be at your workplace.

As a start, try giving yourself the goal of asking at least one question during a meeting that you’re expected to contribute to. We know it may not be second nature to you. But keep this up and you’ll be fearless in no time. 

Prepare your questions for a good start

Different companies have different induction processes. Some are structured and specific, while some are more relaxed, covering key things at an irregular pace. Keep these questions in mind to prompt your supervisor to make arrangements for your arrival. They are also useful to help you seem proactive and motivated to immerse yourself into the company’s ways of working as quickly as you can.

1. “Are there orientation materials that I should have access to?”

2. “Do you have advice related to my position, based on past experiences?“

3. "Are there immediate deadlines at hand that I can help with?” 

4. “Who should I meet this first week/month?” 

Ask for feedback regularly

Employers appreciate it immensely when new hires or interns take the initiative to ask for feedback on a regular basis. It shows that you’re eager to grow, and willing to make the necessary changes to succeed. More often than not, your team and supervisors would be overwhelmed by work demands and it takes you to proactively request for feedback sessions or meetings to chart your own growth.

If you’re an intern, you may not have a formal review until the end of the internship, but there’s nothing stopping you from asking your peers or supervisor how you’re doing every other week or so. Likewise if you’re in a full time position, ensure that you have a regular check-in process with your supervisor so you can keep lines of communication open.

You’ll sometimes run into supervisors or managers who are reluctant to share feedback or keep to vague statements. Follow up by asking for examples of how they would like to see you improve on the next task you work on. You can even go one step further to ask for opportunities to apply your learnings - as an engineer or technician, hands-on practice is critical for improvement. 

Remember, always be open to criticism and avoid taking things personally! 

Establish good relationships

We cannot stress the importance of this enough - every job is an opportunity to develop relationships with colleagues and supervisors that may help you in your career. Seek out mentors and colleagues who are willing to share their knowledge and skills. Ask them questions and go to them for help (within reason), and show them you’re keen to learn.

Keeping in touch after you’ve left will keep you plugged into job openings in the company, or open up opportunities for you when they move on to other organisations.

Having positive work relationships are also key to increasing your productivity and positivity at work. We are social creatures after all, and maintaining friendship at work will give you the support circle we all need.

Track your activities and achievements

A good habit to cultivate is to immediately start noting down the projects that you supported and the times you added value. If you’re on internship, it is likely that you already have a journal of activities to fill in for your school records, but don’t let that be the end. Did you help improve a process’s efficiency? Or supported on an initiative that led to lower costs? Make sure you’re tracking specific facts and figures about your performance.

It may seem like a chore, but this will be incredibly useful for building your resume for future job applications, or when it comes time to ask your boss for a promotion or a raise.

Finally, take the time to learn and enjoy your first work experience

Now is the time to make mistakes and ask as many questions as you need - as you gain more experience, you’ll find you have less chances to do so. Don’t stress too much, keep an open mind, our tips on hand, and you’ll well be on your way to making an impactful impression. 

Part 2: Communications course to boost your presentation and interview skills

To help give you an edge over the rest of your peers, we’ve created a communications course by esteemed public speaking coach, Benjamin Loh. Developing good communications skills is crucial to improving yourself as an engineer or technician - it is the foundation to building great working relationships and knowing how to explain processes simply to different departments. 

This four-part series will help you learn how to give presentations confidently and get employers to remember you at interviews, as well as discovering your unique value and how you can nurture your strengths to succeed at work.

They’re just 15 minutes each, and you can complete them at your own pace. Happy watching and learning! 

Watch the first one below and the rest via the playlist here.

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