Ok, so you’ve got the job, packed your bags and are ready to work. Well, presumably you’ve already done all the preparation before you’ve actually landed. At least I hope you did. It makes your first day much easier, because trust me, it can be a whirlwind. So let’s get to it!
6:00: Get Up
Your bed may be comfortable, or another 9 minutes of snoozing may sound good, but it’s not worth the risk of being late. Take it from someone who’s been late… twice. It’s not the most pleasant experience. But we’re not here to revisit my memories of walking up sweaty and stressed on Day 1 to two different internships.
I would suggest, especially on Day 1, to lay out your clothes and pack a lunch/lunch money the night before. Not having to figure that out in the morning makes more of a difference than you’d think.
7:00: Eat Breakfast
So, some of you may have seen the “get up at 6 am” bit and wondered why so early. Breakfast. Breakfast is why. Don’t think you’ll eat in 5 minutes while running out the door. My personal favorite thing to do was to watch some Brooklyn Nine-Nine while sipping some of that bitter cup of a happiness potion called coffee. Even just sitting for 15 minutes and reading an article or two can help you calm down before a long day. Or the long commute.
7:40: Train Time
Ok breathe. Now Google the morning rush of Tokyo, or London, or really any bit city. Now breathe again.
Done? Yeah. It’s not really the prettiest thing in the world. There have been times where it’s been so packed on the metro that I couldn’t move my arms. Sound bad yet? Well, you get used to it. No one really likes commuting, but everyone has an average of an hour each way to and from work. May as well make the best of it.
A few tips to survive:
- Put in headphones and blast your most feel-good playlist or podcast
- Close your eyes, assuming you’re not a sleep-risk, and try to forget how there is a forearm in your face
- Think the happiest of thoughts, like actually getting to sit in an empty train car
- Look out the window and watch your beautiful new host city zoom by
- If you’re by the door when they open, step out to the side to avoid the sudden stampede of people coming out
- Don’t be insulted by the lack of personal space, at least not for the hour on the train
- Don’t be insulted if someone pushes you. They just need to get off. Unless an elbow goes flying, there was no anger behind it. You’ll probably find yourself shoving someone at one point. Just keep your elbows and hands in and just shoulder your way out. Mumble a quick “Sumimasen” if you want to be uber polite.
- Remember to hold the the rail on the escelators
You’ve made it! Work starts at 9:00, so make sure to get there slightly early so you can settle in. Now begins the real fun.
When you walk in, your supervisor will most likely introduce you to the company, maybe walk you around the office and introduce you to people. You may even be given a business card. Pro-tip: Look up Japanese business card etiquette, just in case. Once you settle into your desk, start your tasks! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and if you have ANY worries, approach your supervisor. Better to ask now than let everything snowball.
13:00: Lunch time!
This is the perfect time for lunch. Lunch is an hour and taking it at 13:00 gives you a nice break exactly in the middle of the day. Your supervisor or coworkers may ask you to go out to lunch. Say yes! Your first day is the best opportunity to connect with them and really start integrating into the office culture. They’ll probably ask some questions. Be prepared with your own. It doesn’t all have to be about the company. You could talk about Japan (or whatever your host county is), hobbies, the food. If you’re really desperate for small talk, there’s always the weather.
14:00: Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off to Work We Go
Back to the grind. Once you start getting into the swing of things, make sure to establish open communication with your supervisor. That way, if you are getting too much work or not enough, you feel comfortable talking about it later on. As the semester goes on, look back at the internship description from when you first applied. Is there anything in the description that you really want to do? Don’t sit and wait for it. Feel free to talk to your supervisor. They want you to like your internship as much as you want to. And really, they don’t bite.
18:00: First Day Is Over!
You made it! Now, and bear with me, we have to go back to the trains. See above for survival tips. On the bright side? The rest of the day is yours. Get dinner, go to an arcade, make a big stew, get free hugs in Shibuya, sleep away the remaining hours. Look forward to Day 2.