By Joshua Birch
Like everything in life, the first impression matters, a lot. This is something many people, like myself, can dread and overthink, over complicating a small simple moment. Various studies claim you have 30 seconds to impress but really, an impression can be a simple hello, a conversation or even a visual. It can range from five seconds to hours, however, it is recognised as one of the most important steps of a professional development.
Like many jobs, internships and subjects, it is unknown what to expect, making the first day almost daunting. I myself have experienced this, falling into this nerve wrecking headspace before attending an internship which I had limited knowledge on.
Obviously everyone prioritises giving a good first impression to others, however, nerves and anxiety can be difficult to overcome. When I started my internship, I was constantly given advice by friends and family on what to do on my first day. I was told to “arrive early,” and “introduce yourself to everyone you can”. Additionally, I was advised to say “G’day,” and offer assistance in all departments. But, as you can imagine I was anxious and intimidated of the unknown professional environment. It wasn’t until I introduced myself to my supervisor and a few of the surrounding staff that I started to feel comfortable in the workplace and less overwhelmed.
A few tips that assisted me when interning was:
- Act confident, say hello and clearly introduce yourself;
- Everyone was once in your shoes so they understand how you are feeling; and
- Look the part and be positive.
What To Gain
There are many advantages that can result from a good, effective first impression. This includes:
- Receiving a professional reference;
- Increased professional network through social media platforms; and
- Greater experience with further roles, practical skills and responsibility.
A Bad Impression
There are several ways a first impression can go wrong. Without initiative and a positive attitude, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the situation, thus ruining a great opportunity.
While interning, I was informed about a candidate who attempted to secure an internship a couple weeks before me. From that experience, I was advised to do the complete opposite of what was delivered by the individual. That individual produced no effort and had no drive to deliver stimulating content in the workplace. It was truly a recipe for disaster, especially after being found sleeping and lazing during work hours, which resulted in termination.
Now this story could have been made up, who knows, but it definitely showcased the importance of first impressions. In one day, the individual left a negative impression in the workplace thus ruining their chance of further opportunity within the company.