Subject: Why the hard way is the right way
Ever found yourself doing the bare minimum in your internship? We’ve all been there, sat at our desks longing for more responsibility than picking up the bosses americano everyday. So why do we stick it out? Well for the experience, right. A classic term used by so many interns. Myself, completely guilty. So when I found myself prospecting an internship abroad, I very shamefully had a similar method of thinking. Another internship that I knew I was doing, you know for the hell of it, for the experience.
Fast forward to that moment. I’m in the very swanky offices of a design company in Sydney ready to find out if i would in fact go on to have another ‘for the experience’ internship. As I fumbled with my notes and messed with my hair, I realised I was actually so nervous. Not to mention I was mentally rehearsing the what to avoid vocabulary in my head. You know the total cringe kind. Words like ‘it’s my passion’ and ‘I’m just looking for experience.’ Yes, completely off limits I thought. Except they weren’t. With my first opportunity to chat with the director, I had successfully spilled all of those words and more. By the looks on his face I could tell he wanted to put me out of my desperation misery and with that, he handed me a single piece of paper titled ‘Social Media Intern Task’. That morning I walked out of their fancy little offices with the potential trial to be their social intern. And that afternoon, I had landed the job.
Thankfully, my annoying jittery nerves didn’t last and on my first day I was thrilled to find out I had a teammate. Yes, they only went and partnered me up with another intern. Now some people may hate this but I for that matter did- not. A few days later I met up with the director's sister, I very quickly realised she was just what I needed for this internship. She was there when I was freaking out about what picture to post on Instagram or when I was putting mental question marks over the design world in my head. From that moment onwards, I knew this internship was going to be different. I thought I could only learn from CEO’S and directors and there I was learning from someone just like me, another intern.
Only a few months in and my design lingo was ﬁnally lining up with the teams. It was at that point the director decided I needed to focus on some other things that were holding me back from progressing in the industry. So I began fortnightly meetings dedicated to my own personal career development. Now let me tell you, there’s nothing like an intense 60 minute chat about your strengths and weaknesses to really put you in your place. Goals were set right before my eyes and if those boxes weren’t ticked by myself, I felt a failure. Heavy stuff I know, but when someone gives you their paid time for free, you would have to have the nerve to knock it back.
So that’s what I continued to do. Wholeheartedly for 6 months. Then my daily routine varied, some days I spent perfecting my pitch to prepare me for those swallow me in the ground ( networking ) moments and other times I was simply, just creating copy.
If you don’t already, I heavily suggest asking for 1-1 time with your manager or supervisor. This is the time you can learn your strengths, weaknesses and more importantly opportunities to grow and become better. If that is not possible…as sometimes your manager is a little too
busy or important ;) then spend time doing it yourself. Self reflect, write down the things you know you are good at and the things you struggle with. Without doing exercises like this you won’t understand your strengths and more importantly your weaknesses. If you are not learning then how are you progressing?
I will always remember the moment I walked into those offices and looked straight into the eyes of my future co-workers. I almost cringe at the mumbling wreck I was, sat there in-front of them. Yet what’s bigger, bolder and stands better in my mind is the girl who was full of conﬁdence walking out 6 months later. To me that feeling is a little more than ‘just work experience.’ Not to mention those Harbour Bridge views, they helped….. a lot.