What You Actually Need to Bring To Your Summer Internship

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ICYMI, I’m going to be traveling to San Diego, CA this summer to work as a research assistant! I got my project the other day, and let me tell you, I am so dang excited! Last summer, I traveled to Houston, TX to work in the Baylor College of Medicine SMART program – if you are interested in biomedical research, I highly recommend applying for it next summer. It’s a great program and hosted by one of the best medical schools in the country! ANYWHO, I’m basically a semi-pro packer for cross-country internships. It’s a lot harder than you would think, and I don’t even think that’s accounting for me being a chronic over packer.

You should have seen me packing a bag to come home for literally three days. Yeah, I brought a lot of stuff home. You aren’t going to want to lug five thousand bags, nor pay for five thousand bags when you are trying to settle in to a new place. While I also ended up shipping things there and back, it really is best to minimize the amount of crap you are bringing. If you didn’t use it at home, you definitely won’t use it for the 8-10 weeks that you’re in a new location.There were a few things that I didn’t think about when I was packing for Houston, that I actually absolutely needed. Thankfully, my dad and I spent a couple of dollars at the local Target once I was in Texas!

If you want to know some things that I recommend stuffing in your suitcase and some things that I really don’t think you need to bring, keep reading! Cool, let’s get in to it.

NEED: A Couple of Hangers

Hangers are one of those weird things that get absolutely no attention. All of your clothes hang in your closet, and you definitely think about packing those, but what about the hangers?!? I mean maybe I’m the only silly scatterbrained packer, but I totally forgot about brining hangers! Luckily my mom saved my life, because hangers are expensive, and asked how I planned on hanging my business clothes once I got to Houston. Thanks mom, once again.

My tip here is to bring maybe 4-5 hangers. If you are buying my favorite no-slip velvet hangers, they should easily be stuffed in your suitcase. This will be enough for your killer #girlboss pantsuit and 2-3 dressier items that you can wear out at night. These black ones are my favorite.

DON’T NEED: Lots of Shoes

This is where I shot myself in the foot, haha see what I did there? No, okay. This section will depend on exactly what type of internship you’re in. For my desk job professionals who are looking at pencil skirts and button ups all summer, you’ll want to switch up between 2-3 {comfortable} heels/flats. The summer after first year I worked a desk job and this is what I found myself actually wearing even though I had many more appropriate shoes. I’d probably stick with 1 pair of high quality, nude heels and 2 pairs of flats {black and brown}. Additionally, you’ll want to bring a pair of running shoes for staying active and 2 pairs of casual sandals/shoes [max]. Keep in mind, you’ll also be bringing whatever shoes that you’ll be traveling in.

Now, for my science nerds who will be working behind the lab bench all summer, I have yet to be in a lab where the dress code wasn’t a step up from casual at max. You’ll need to make sure that you have the proper attire. I’d recommend emailing your PI ahead of time and asking what people in lab usually wear. In Houston, I rotated between my Nike Free Runs and my All White Vans. You’ll also need a fancier pair of shoes for end of program presentations. On the weekends, I rotated between my White Vans for exploring and 2 pairs of small gladiator sandals. All in all, I think packing 4 pairs of shoes should be good. I think I brought 8 in total, #yikes.

NEED: Dressier Clothes

I feel like this is obvious, but sometimes people forget the simplest of things. I highly recommend bringing a true business outfit for any presentations that you might need to give during the experience. Also, you may want dressier clothes to wear out to bars or fancier restaurants for networking events. We are classy, professional millennials right? I really opted for 1 business combo and 1 LBD and called it a day. This will save you lots of space for other clothes.

NEED: Mini Steamer

So, I bought the EXTREMESteam and it does the job well, but it’s a little large. Looking back on it, I would probably opt for this one. I don’t know if anyone my age, other than me, really takes the time to iron their clothes anymore. But when you want to look and feel more polished, you definitely want to heat up your mom’s iron and use it. However, when you are traveling far distances, you most definitely have the space to bring an entire iron and ironing board set. I had to opt for something else. I was watching a couple of traveling videos, and a lot of people carried around these small steamers. They work like a DREAM and I will probably never go anywhere again without mine.

DON’T NEED: Your Entire Makeup Collection

So, like every other girl who was obsessed with beauty guru videos on Youtube in 10th grade, I have a ton of makeup. I’ve gotten a lot better with packing my makeup in the past couple of years because I know how I am when it comes to vacations and trips. You need to keep it simple and natural anyway for the day job, and then it only takes maybe one to two shades to make a brilliant smoky eye. The only place I would really splurge here are on skin products. If you need 4 face cleansers to make sure you don’t get breakouts, bring them. New environments can be pretty harsh sometimes, so you want to keep things on that front as similar as possible.

Here’s what I’m bringing makeup wise and they could all fit in one of my makeup bags.
– Fit Me Foundation & Concealer
– MAC Studio Fix Powder
Laura Mercier Translucent Setting Powder
NYX Photo Loving Face Primer
– MAC Blush in Sweet As Cocoa
– NYX Professional Contour Kit
Urban Decay NAKED Palette
– Urban Decay All Nighter Spray
– Benefit They’re Real Mascara
BECCA Cosmetics Highlighter in Opal
– Maybelline Lipstick in Touch of Spice

NEED: Mix and Matchable Clothes

So, I talked all about my neutral obsession in this post and it helps when it comes to packing a small amount of clothes that you need to last you for a long time. The lovely thing is that I only need my cute trendy clothes when I’m bopping around town. I only need max 4 cuter tops and 4 bottoms and they could all go together. Mix in shoes and you have even more outfit combinations. The beauty of neutrals, I’m telling y’all: it’s amazing!

Apparently, it can get cooler at night in sunny Southern Cali, so I’ll also be bringing along my jean jacket, which can change of the look of an outfit so fast! You’ll definitely want to capitalize on suitcase space, so I highly recommend bringing less clothes that can be mixed and matched together to create all new looks.

NEED: A Go-To Cross Body

Yes, I just posted this tip in my Travel Hacks post, but seriously! I cannot stress how imperative it is for you to have a cross body. It’s easy to carry around and can hold all your essentials. Leave the tote at home! Not to mention you can easily stuff it into your suitcase or carryon and it will take up literally no space! I tend to opt for my Camel Rebecca Minkoff Mini Mac if I had to pick only one. It’s smaller and more appropriate to bring out at night!

I am so excited to head out on my next summer adventure over on the west coast and I know that it can be stressful trying to plan what to pack, what to do, what to bring, and who to see when you are traveling across the country, especially when you actually have a job to do during the week day where you need to be super professional!

My note to you when packing is you CAN be reasonable while packing and still be prepared and bring everything you need. Also, unless you’re going to a remote part of the world, you’re going to be in civilization and they are going to have stores. Also, Amazon exists for a reason! You’re going to rock it!


  • My issue with an internship will be not bringing my entire shoe collection. Lol. Thanks for this great info!

    Much love,
    Ashley | dearash.com

  • Yes to the mini steamer! I swear by mine, and so does my dad. These are great recommendations 🙂

    Kendal // Life With Kendal