Hindsight is a beautiful thing, and so a short time into my summer placement, here are seven things I wish I'd been told before I started...
1) Expect people to be nice - especially your line manager!
Having come through a rigorous application procedure, I imagined an office of no-nonsense professionals who might be impatient or frustrated with the newcomer and her lack of knowledge of the business. I genuinely was not prepared for how kind, friendly and helpful my colleagues and bosses would be, whether at the office where I'm based or elsewhere! Everyone I've met in my first fortnight has been very giving of their time (and coffee!) and my line manager is just the loveliest person!
2) Silly questions will save you from greater embarrassment later on.
For example, better to ask someone straightaway what 'BLT' means before asking at a team meeting why everyone has an obsession with that particular sandwich filling! At first it can sound like your managers are speaking another language, but there's really no shame in asking someone to explain an acronym, repeat something or just slow down! People want to help you settle in and will be only too obliging - they're USED to speaking in crazy acronyms and won't realise they're doing it unless you remind them!
3) You WILL feel out of your depth to begin with - but so will everybody else!
The first few days are a DELUGE of information, and it can be really overwhelming at times! But hang in there - after a week all the jargon starts to make sense, and you'll be surprised how many acronyms you can learn in the space of 7 days! If it all feels too much to begin with, remember that your fellow summer interns feel the same way! (Ask them!)
4) The dress code can vary somewhat between offices...
Having bought out half of H&M's work wear section, I was feeling pretty smart in my new black dress and blazer... until someone told me I looked like I was going to a funeral! Obviously it's better to be overdressed than too casual, but in certain offices 'smart' business wear can be taken with a pinch of salt. And whatever you do, don't forget 'dress down Friday'!
5) Want to save money? Bring your own tea and coffee!
The Costa coffee at the canteens is wonderful, but those luxurious lattes add up! Bring some teabags or instant coffee, take advantage of the kitchenettes and you'll easily save yourself £1 per drink!
6) Brace yourselves: carbohydrates are coming.
On a similar theme, the food at the canteen is glorious, but having chips or a roast dinner every lunchtime probably isn't the best idea for the waistline (or wallet!) If you can't resist, eat a hot meal at lunch time and have something lighter in the evening, or else factor in some exercise after work because you'll need it!!
7) Your fellow interns are friends waiting to happen!
As W.B. Yeats once said, ''There are no strangers, only friends you have not met yet!" If you spend your evenings and weekend locked in your room, you're missing out on half the #SummeratCentrica experience. Chances are you're in a new place with new people, so take advantage of this - go exploring together, and get to know one other! You may discover shared interests, like a passion for musicals or Nando's!
If you'd asked me how I felt after day one on the job, I probably would have answered: exhausted, exhilarated and slightly scared! A couple of weeks on: I am confident, excited and eager for more! Don't worry if it's tough to start with – just relax, ask lots of questions, and with all the help and support of your team and fellow interns, you'll settle in and begin to flourish in no time!