As a year passes my first “big girl” job, I remember a the time before that…when I was an intern. Yes as a twenty-something millennial approaching a quarter-life crisis, I have to remind myself to understand everyone’s path is different.
Millennials got so many participation trophies growing up that a recent study showed that 40% believe they should be promoted every two years, regardless of performance.
– Joel Stein in Time Magazine
Now get ready for A LOT of text…
In this Gen-Y chaos, every post-graduate is in a scurry for what they’re most comfortable with. There are people that know exactly what they want to do, but don’t know how to go about it. There’s people what have NO idea. There’s people you kinda of know, then magically get lucky. There’s people that don’t have to do anything. Then there’s people who HUSSLE. Most people don’t look at work as something we love, it’s a brainwashed action that gives us the green…which…we will blow every week we get paid, either at the bar to de-stress or on those Tory Burch ruby red rainboots that finally came in your size. We want everything to be spoon-fed and simple. Oh you want dinner in bed? There’s an app for that! But is there an app to tell you what you’re gunna be when you grow-up? What will happen in ten years? Hell no! To be 20-something is where adulthood truly begins. Even if going pay-check to pay-check to have a roof over your head while eating ramen feels like you’re an i.n.d.e.p.e.n.d.e.n.t. grown-ass-woman (or man)…you’re not. You’re still working at Nordstrom while you intern your life away to find the company where you fit-in or working the sales job with the sister company in order to become the director of the head company….so on and so forth.
But what happens when you find it? You find the place you want to be? I think I did. As a liberal arts student who studied communications, I’ve had one hell of a ride. I’m only 22 about to get my Masters and I feel like I should be placed properly into my career path. WRONG. SO. SO. UNBELIEVABLY WRONG! I have friends in business who get hired ASAP after their intern-screening and friends in nursing school who know where they’ll be placed for residency…They’re asking me what I’m “up-to” as if I’m a starving artist who will be hussling until I’m 50 to land something decent! Why would I settle for DECENT?! If life is yours to create…I’m in the writers block of creating. I found a place where I can see myself doing my grind, yet I’m STILL lost. BLANK. Knock, knock did my brain cells explode from too many fireball shots? I sure hope not.
Answer: I shouldn’t be lost. I guess I don’t know what to do next. I’m a baby lost in the department store. You want to explore your options, but you don’t know what will happen if you do. Then you start exploring and you kinda like it. Then as you get deeper into the mix of exploration, you get comfortable…so comfortable you’re blinded. Then you sense you’re done searching and realize you’re lost. What do you do? Freeze? Cry? Scream? No. Pause. You Breathe. I’ve learned a lot in the last four months. A lot about myself, my work ethic, my social skills and my anxiety. I’ve had five UNpaid internships and NONE have made me feel this way….EVER.
THE STARS HAVE ALIGNED!
Honestly, I’m TOTALLY OVER IT. But I say this with love and respect. I’ve had about six…seven if you include the one I stayed at for 2 weeks, internships. I think I understand how it works and have knowledge on my skills I’m good and bad at. I’m ready for THE experience to learn while staying put. I’m tired of getting into a cycle…you know…it’s like I get to know you then leave and even though we got along well we don’t really talk besides seeing something cool on your Facebook…summer camp style relationships. I’ve dealt with that my entire life, it’s a too comfortable of a feeling. It’s time to be solidified. But am I really ready?? I think so! I can make the touchdown coach.
As for y’all with less experience I look at it like this, an internship is becoming another part of the school process…or at least that is what I’m seeing happen through my classmates and colleagues all over the country. It’s a mess…a depressing mess because you’re either busting your ass working hard or being lazy to just get through the motions for it to end for your gold star. Yay! Barf. Will there be a proper way for you to get your thanks for doing this FREE labor appreciation? Well no…and never will, unless you’re mind-blowing amazing and happen to be god-like beautiful. In that case, I hate you. xox
Reality: take it seriously and focus. Nobody cares what you do, nobody is controlling you, nobody puts pressure on you…but yourself. You want it? Then YOU get it. YOU do it and YOU make a journey happen. Y.O.U.
Here is what I learned…Hopefully it can help you, do you:
1) Be confident and engaged. People are lacking determination and drive which will set you apart from many others who say they have it…but really do NOT. Don’t lie to yourself if this isn’t YOU. Stop, look & listen A.K.A. embrace and educate. This is your chance to test the way you work under different environments. If it’s that awful…at the end of the day—go home, have some wine, vent to your dog and count down the days til you say, buh-bye! If you love it…nothing will get in your way, blast off…you’re a free bird.
2) Just because you score your dream internship doesn’t mean you will get a job. It’s a test of endurance, charm and will. Everyone starts from the bottom, but why pay you, if they can get another minion for FREE. That’s right FO’ FREE. Take what you enjoy about it and see where it can be applied elsewhere, see if other departments are hiring or hell, maybe you’re a lucky bastard and they create a position for you. But it all comes in HARD WORK and DEDICATION don’t I repeat DO NOT expect anything…you have a set time. It’s a race you gotta run.
3) Take internships to discover what you feel is worth doing with your life. That’s the point right? It’s great! It really lets you see the “real world” everyone is talking about. You see the insides…no more cookie-cutter image; this is business. It can even get students to change their major. You can explore without getting fired or quitting, three months here, six months there…it’s like volunteering at a food bank. Do it as many times as you want. Embrace it…brag about it! You done good kid.
4) We’re not best friends… Everyone at work has their work friends. You socialize on the regular yet can’t wait to not see their face. You’re an intern. You’re leaving, they don’t want to get attached to you because you’re leaving. Did I mention your leaving? No one is shouting OMG lets be friends!!! Or really care about you. You’re there to help and make their job easier. So how do you communicate without being present? What is appropriate communication to where you’re not annoying? It’s all a guessing game or is it a test to see how aggressive you are? Do you have the balls to say, “Yo this is how I feel, here’s my X, Y and Z.” When the new group comes in…will you even be relevant anymore? This is my hardest thing EVER. I’m social, I like people, I oddly get along with a majority of people of ALL kinds of shapes, sizes, ages, you name it…it’s my thing. But nothing can be taken personally. You do what you do, be yourself, have a personality…there’s nothing wrong with that…you don’t wanna be deadpan for months. You can’t take anything to heart because you’re the weakest link and that’s OK! So don’t be asking if you can go to #MargaritaMonday, if they want you there they’ll ask.
5) Listen. Observe. Repeat. You are a baby sponge. That’s all I have to say because if you do it, you get it. You better be on your tip-toes, ready to pounce!
6) Know who you are…be honest. Understand your skills and not so skills, no one is perfect. The flaws. The Pros. The secret handshake. The annoying habits. What underwear you’ve got on. Etc. Your social mind mixed with your business mind will evolve. You know what you’re good at and comfortable with which gives you the option to challenge yourself. Questions are good. I’ve never done X, but I’m good at Y, how can I incorporate X into my routine? Give yourself that push because being able to try new things means you can FUCK UP because you’re the intern so FUCK IT UP…with class. But don’t forget to learn so when you do it again you KICK ASS.
7) Groups VS. Independence. Adapt accordingly, but don’t try too hard. Be yourself! Stuff will always be done efficient and excellent as a team, but you have to play your independent part. Things go hand-in-hand and you WILL notice when there’s a glitch. Understand the different styles of doing things, yours might be good, but there will be a way that it can be done better.
8) Take the time to reflect. You’re too busy being “In The Zone” you don’t have time to experience your AWESOMENESS. It’s nice to see how you have grown. Right that shit off on that resume, girl. See what you learned different each day, what you got better at, what you’re actually doing and who’s helped you?! Be sure to take a break to see what you liked and didn’t like in order to explore your next adventure. You accomplished “something” with many outlets of support. #Networking
9) Learn to think in the environment you’re placed in. Working with others is a trait! Accepting multiple personas makes you valued to work with because everyone can ask you for advice since you view things openly.
10) The entire experience is a LEARNING process. Take this as that 10-week Anatomy course. You sense the professor’s style of teaching, you make some friends in the class, you know if you want to be apart of a study group. Then you do your thing; you work hard or not hard enough. Your effort will spill accordingly.
Not everyone is on the get rich quick bus…although that would be FAB-U-LOUS. I’m willing to struggle my artistic struggle. My point is what if you fall into place, you discover something you really enjoy doing! Like…You really, really like it…SO much it becomes a cycle, a habit to your life…then all of a sudden time flies by. BAM. It’s gone, three months go hasta la vista and then you’re kicked to the curb, right where you started…at the bottom. You’re the tadpole swimming around wondering what happens when you swim to the left. But eventually, you’ll get that money!!! Is the motivated 20-something going to have to intern FOREVER? It feels that way. Especially since I discovered something actually worth doing. I don’t know what success feels like just yet, there’s always something better that will top your latest success. I say keep it going…impress yourself!
That was my 10 cents. Now what? Do I have a plan? No. But I shouldn’t be afraid of that. Life is spontaneous. This is the beginning. I took it as what it was worth. NO “WHAT IF I…” ALLOWED. A new world has been opened and I’m gunna continue learning and understanding it…my way. If I get a job, CHEERS, rounds on me. If I intern again, SO BE IT, rounds on me.
Don’t stress the intern stress because when it’s over, pat yourself on the back. Congrats, you road the bull. #winning #blessed #gifted #rockstar Don’t take it for granted. The entire point is to go out in the world to practice what you learned. You’re young, you have everything to live for. Be real.