This summer I started an internship/secretary position (or Executive Errand Organizer as I like to call myself) at an ad agency in my area that also publishes the county magazine. After countless rejections of seasonal positions last summer and lot of networking emails (thanks to my amazing mom who tends to talk about my professional interests more than I do), I finally caught a break and landed a job where a colored polo and khakis were not in the required dress code.
Now starting any new job is somewhat scary. What do I wear? What if I do something wrong? What was his name again? Should I ask for a map of the office? (I only put the last one because it has been two weeks here, and I have gotten lost on the way to the bathroom six times.) However, an internship feels sometimes like a continuous three month interview. As an intern, you are dropped into your “dream field” where both your expectations and those of the people you are working for are extremely high. Since you started college you have been looking forward to that moment where you finally get to work at that firm, magazine, or doctor’s office, but until this time, it has all been a day dream.
For me, this summer woke me up. Advertising isn’t all about fancy dinners and exciting, upbeat collaborations around a table. Interning isn’t all about watching someone else do their job and absorbing knowledge through osmosis. Days are long, people get aggravated, and paper cuts burn. But there are a few things you can help get you through these times:
- A positive, optimistic attitude can make yourself and those around you feel calm and happier. No matter if you just make a point to smile at everyone you see during the day, people will notice and catch on.
- Ask questions. I asked probably 15 questions my first day, but hey, now I know where (most) everything is.
- Enthusiasm is key. Whether it is working on a huge project with your mentor or just answering the phone, both tasks are important. Do what needs to be done, and do it well. Greeting visitors could be a test to see how well you can communicate with people, and if you end up slacking, they aren’t going to want you handling clients any time soon.
- Just like the wise Jason Mraz once said, “You don’t need a vacation when there’s nothing to escape from.” Love what you are doing! Getting an internship is the first step of your professional career. I’m sure thanking my lucky stars I don’t have to end my phone calls with “Would you like any sides with that?”
The most important thing to remember is you are doing this for YOU. To others, your internship or job could seem like the most insignificant position you could have. But it’s what you are spending your life doing at that exact moment, and your life is pretty important, don’t you think?