How to Survive Internshiplandia in Style

I recently stumbled upon an article from USA Today, titled 6 Things Every Intern Should Have in Their Bag. After living in IT “Internshiplandia” for over a year (10 months with one company and going on 2 months with another), I feel qualified to weigh in on the subject. The 6 essentials as told by USA Today’s Samantha Smoak are:

  1. A notebook and pen
  2. Sticky notes
  3. An extra pair of shoes
  4. Umbrella
  5. Jacket or cardigan
  6. Bottled water and snacks

In some ways, I wish I would have had this list when I started my first internship. I can specifically remember the shoes I wore on my first day, over a year ago – a pair of nude Bandolino wedges with subtle bows on the toes. Perfectly business casual, with a touch of style, I thought, right? Sure. But also, blister CENTRAL. We took a walking tour of the 7-floor building and walked to lunch with our new coworkers. Yeeeouch. I would have killed for the pink flip-flops that now reside in my bag. Even today, here I sit with the cardigan I brought in my bag draped over my lap. You never know when the office AC will be cranked! NOTE: In addition to bringing a cardigan or jacket, it’s important to consider there may also be days where a sweater and slacks is too much. Layering is my secret (and not much of a secret, honestly).

In other ways, this list seems to be for the typical intern you see in movies – working ridiculous hours for some magazine with little to no pay where you must rely on the measly snacks you can carry in your purse to hold you over until you can escape the office. While I sometimes bring my breakfast to work with me, I can’t recall a time where I couldn’t get away to get something to eat, even if I had to work through lunch. Then again, every field is different (accounting.. tax season.. woof), and I always have a cup of water on my desk.

My bag is literally bursting with things I ‘think’ are necessities, but I’ve narrowed it down and here are my personal additions:

  1. Ibuprofen. This fell into my bag as a staple in early June when I found myself with a splitting headache. Ugh. How will I get anything done when the only relief is to cover my eyes from the flourescent lighting? Thankfully, a coworker had some to spare, but I make sure to carry my own from now on.
  2. Instant coffee. I’m a total coffeehead. At my first internship, I had a Keurig machine at my disposal with ample coffee choices for 25 cents a cup. Talk about spoiled. At my new internship, the coffee is 50 cents for 10 oz. and I can’t describe it in any way other than it tastes like lipstick. I don’t even know. Anyway, if I don’t have the time (or the cash) to stop by a coffee shop or have a cup at home, Starbucks VIA packets are the way to go. Available in hot or iced varieties, I’m able to carry my favorite drinks in my bag! WIN.
  3. Bandaids. This goes hand in hand with the extra pair of shoes from Smoak’s list, but if you forget, or don’t feel your comfy shoes are appropriate, having bandaids to soften the blow definitely helps. Most offices have a first aid kit available for minimergencies, but don’t be the girl that’s always swiping bandaids – carry your own.
  4. Tablet. Maybe this just feels necessary in IT, but having my iPad Mini in my bag almost takes place of the notebook + pen/sticky notes. It’s less burdensome to carry and is handy for managing my calendar, checking emails, and taking notes in meetings. But, whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of letting it distract you!

Take a look at some of my choices below to fulfill my and Smoak’s recommendations. I have the Old Navy tassel tote, but have always pined over Longchamps and these fun Kate Spade bags. Tieks are great on-the-go flats if they’re in your budget, and Old Navy (again) has affordable flip-flops of all patterns and colors to choose from. A practical iPad case, like the Fossil case shown below, shows you mean business with a touch of personality, and the fun Lilly umbrella brightens up any rainy day.


Bags: 1/2/3
Umbrella: 1
Shoes: 1/2
iPad Case: 1

What essentials can you add to Smoak’s and my lists? I’d love to hear what’s helped you survive your internship!


3 thoughts on “How to Survive Internshiplandia in Style

  1. I was never an intern (girl, you’re my hero for going into accounting– my mom is a CPA so she scared me off from that), but I have worked in an office for the past four years. Layering is the only way to survive an office. I also carry around my iPad. I never know when I’m going to need to access something. My other necessity is a portable charger for those long days when the phone is about to die.

    • Ha! I never would have made it in accounting either, I’m in IT. I was just saying I can see how some other fields may have to rely on snacks from their purse in the busier times of the year. How could I forget chargers! Thanks for weighing in!

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