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The first day of your internship—what you need to know

From budgeting and preparing for your first day, to making a good impression, here’s everything you need to know.

5 min read

Bursting the student bubble, starting the first day of your internship, and entering working life is daunting. However, despite being scary initially, internships ease the transition to full-time work, while adding valuable experience to your CV or resume. Although the countdown can feel overwhelming, don’t fear—the following tips cover everything you need to know to ensure your first day goes smoothly.

Preparing for the first day of your internship

Benjamin Franklin said “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Yes, you could breeze through the first day of your internship without adequate preparation, but forward planning reduces pre-placement nerves and sets you up for excellence.

Before the big day, prepare practicalities, such as:

1. The route to the office and travel arrangements

Google Maps is your friend. Go the extra mile by traveling the route days before and purchasing necessary tickets.

2. The company dress code

Be clear on what to wear on the first day of your internship, and budget for any new clothes you may need. Keep things simple and if in doubt, opt for formal clothing in black or white.

3. What to bring on the first day of your internship

Most paperwork will likely be handled by the company’s HR department on the day. But make sure to bring important documents with you, including:

  • Correspondence or contracts from your university or internship coordinator.
  • Your financial details.
  • Your passport or ID.

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4. Bring enough cash for lunch with your new teammates

Lunching with your new colleagues is prime bonding time, but bring a packed lunch and snacks for back-up.

5. What time to arrive and who to contact

Plan to arrive at least 20 minutes before expected, allowing for time to ground yourself and enter the office with a clear and focused mindset.

The European Youth Forum report, An Employers' Guide to Quality Internships, recommends clear, written learning goals and regular meetings with a supervisor to make the most of this opportunity. Take initiative and write your goals in a journal before the day arrives, and discuss them with your supervisor when appropriate.

Budgeting for your internship

It’s important to know your worth and avoid overstretching yourself financially. It’s estimated that the yearly number of interns in the EU ranges between four and six million. Yet salary expectations vary widely. For example, in the UK, 48% of young people have undertaken unpaid internships, with a similar number unpaid in Europe. However, in many European countries, unpaid internships are illegal.

Budgeting depends on location, income, cost of living, and the length of the internship. If interning in another city or country, budget for rent and travel costs. Be wary of hidden fees for financial transactions when abroad, or open an N26 You account for free ATM withdrawals worldwide.

Rental service Airbnb offer rooms for up to 90-days. It’s a bit of a commitment, but if your internship is over a few months, long-term rentals are cheaper. If your internship is arranged through your university, inquire about reduced student accommodation.

For an idea of costs, average rents for major EU cities are:


  • A standard room in a shared apartment costs £743 per month.
  • Private student accommodation sets you back £640-£1,000 per month.
  • The Airbnb average for apartments is £109 per night.


  • A standard shared apartment costs €571 per month.
  • Airbnb costs are the highest in Europe, with an average of €140 per night for an entire apartment.


  • Standard student accommodation ranges from €290 to €560 per month, depending on the district.


  • A typical studio apartment is costly compared to other major cities, with an average of €1,079 per month.
  • As an alternative, individual rooms on Airbnb range from €30-€70 per night.


  • Studio apartments are cheaper than Paris, with an average €959.
  • The average Airbnb cost, for an entire apartment, is €90 per night.


  • Studio apartments range from €700-€1,350.
  • Potential bargains are possible with shared rooms, which average €300-€600.
  • Airbnb private rooms are reasonably priced, too, with an average of €29 per night.

Monthly transportation costs in major EU cities:

Living near your office means you can walk or cycle. If you drive, inquire about parking fees. If you plan to use public transport, travel adds significantly to the cost of living.

  • London: £172 per month for students
  • Amsterdam: €97.50 per month
  • Berlin: €63.42 per month or €180 for a semester ticket
  • Paris: €75.20 per month
  • Rome: €53 per month
  • Madrid: €20 per month for 7 to 25 year olds

Are you new to budgeting? N26’s free bank account provides all you need to organize your funds, all under one app. Plus, N26 Spaces is a free app feature that lets you create sub-accounts to set aside money for food, travel and rent, so you aren’t left short at the end of the month.

Making a good impression on the first day of your internship

The day has arrived. You’re prepared. You’re motivated. Now it’s time to immerse yourself in the office environment, meet your colleagues, and get to work. You’ll likely tour the office with your supervisor, who will inform you of the company culture and expectations. However, if anything remains unclear, don’t be afraid to ask.

The following internship tips will help you make a good impression:

  1. Arrive early on your first day of your internship.
  2. Be curious, open-minded, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  3. Try your best to remember the names of your new colleagues.
  4. Inquire about office protocols such as email, lunch breaks, and sick leave early on.
  5. Go in with an understanding of the company’s core values and mission statements.
  6. Stay cool—you’ve got this.

It’s understandable that you’re nervous on the first day of your internship. Remain kind to yourself and avoid excessive expectations of how the day will unfold. Your colleagues understand mistakes happen and you’ll need to ask questions as you adjust to your new role.

Relax as much as possible, focus on breathing and remain present with each challenge. Seven out of 10 young people across Europe feel internships lead to future employment, so trust in your ability to become a valued, permanent member of your new team.

Do your best, and the rest will take care of itself. Most importantly—good luck!

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