Inside the Intern’s Purse

If you’re starting your first internship, or maybe interning in a new field or new city, you may be wondering what to bring to your first day (or throughout the internship). I’m here to help! Let’s take a look inside the intern’s purse.

The first thing to keep in mind is what type of purse to bring. My vote is for either a slouchy tote, or a structured tote/satchel. Here are some great options that I love.

The bags above are from various designers – Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Cambridge Satchel Company, etc. But keep in mind that you don’t need to spend the big bucks for a good internship bag that holds everything you need. I will say this, though. I splurged on the MICHAEL Michael Kors Jet Set Large Tote in black leather with gold hardware (seen in this post) and it has been one of the single best purchases I’ve ever made. At just under $300, it was hard to bring myself to spend it, but it has maintained beautifully with no effort on my part, it holds everything I could ever need (including my laptop) – more on that later – and it looks classic and classy. But the choice is all yours!

Now, what goes inside? On the first day of your internship, better be safe than sorry. You want to be prepared for anything that comes your way – the worst thing would be for your boss to ask you to take notes, and you forgot your pen! Here’s what goes inside my purse on the first day of an internship.

1. A notebook. There is really nothing more crucial than this. I’ve had internships supply me with a notebook, and I’ve had ones that don’t. It’s best to be prepared, especially on your first day when you’ll need to take notes. If you’re not taking notes, you’re doing something wrong. (Keep an eye out tomorrow for a Strategy in Stilettos blog post on how to take good notes as an intern!)

2. Pens. Notice the plural. Here’s what happens to pens: People borrow and don’t return them. You lose them. They run out of ink. They fall between a crack in your desk. They magically walk off without telling you. Don’t be the intern who doesn’t have a pen – bring extras.

3. A water bottle. Whether you’re going the green route with a reusable bottle, or grabbing a FIJI Water at the magazine stand around the corner, having a water bottle with you will come in handy. Depending on your internship, it’s possible that you’ll be running errands, lifting boxes, pulling samples, and more. You’ll get thirsty! (And sweaty. Don’t forget to wear deodorant!)

4. Flats! If you’re wearing heels to work (and depending on your internship this can be a great or terrible idea), you’ll want to have a spare pair of comfy flats in your bag. Internships, especially when you’re in NYC, involve a lot of walking and subway-ing, whether it’s to get there, or as part of your responsibilities. Be kind to your feet, or they’ll feel the way mine do right now!

5. A snack. At all my internships, without fail, I’d get hungry during the day. It’s best to bring a snack that will keep up your energy like a power bar (I really like Nature Valley and Special K). Another great option is to bring trail mix (keep it cheap and make your own: equal parts almonds, walnuts, chocolate chips, and dried cranberries).

6. Lunch. Since it’s your first day, this one is optional. Depending on your internship, your boss or mentor may take you out for lunch, or you could always go explore the area and buy your own. But to save money and make sure you’re fed (I never like to rock the boat with a long lunch break – I feel unproductive), bringing lunch is a great option (and healthier, too!)

7. Business Cards. You never know who you’re going to meet at your internship, and on the off chance you’re asked for your contact info, it looks great to be able to hand over a business card. I’ve made a few connections this way, and people are always impressed that interns have their own cards. If you don’t have business cards, don’t stress. It’s a good idea to have a copy of your resume with you just in case, though it’s unlikely you’ll be asked for it – you’re already hired!

8. Headphones. If you have any sort of a commute to work – mine’s a commuter rail and a subway + some walking – it really helps to have your iPod/iPhone and headphones with you. Also, some jobs, depending on the nature of them, let you listen to music while you work (mine did last summer, and I loved it!)

9. Phone + Wallet + Keys + whatever your other personal necessities/backup items are (mine are chapstick, some motrin, a hair-tie, and sunglasses!)

10. Some makeup and jewelry to go from day-to-night. If you’re interning in NYC, take advantage of it! You will absolutely be tired at the end of the day after interning, but try not to go straight home and watch Sex and The City reruns (at least, not every night). Find something wonderful that the city has to offer, and make the best of living in (or near!) the greatest city on earth.

What do you keep inside your internship purse? Is there anything you would change?

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