My First Office Internship

 

This past summer I had my first office internship. I have never been one to enjoy office work or office spaces. However, I was interested to gain first-hand experience in the “real world” where the majority of working adults spend their days typing away behind computer screens, and working in the dark to avoid fluorescent lights. I found an internship working for a type 1 diabetes advocacy group in D.C. and began mentally preparing myself for the real-time version of The Office.

the office party hard GIF

 

Everything I had built up in my head was instantly proven wrong the second I walked through the doors. There was reception, but no receptionist. The office was not laid out in an open, welcoming manner, and it was 9 am but hardly anyone had yet to arrive. As I was given a tour of the space and introduced to the small handful of employees, I was forced to reevaluate my previous understanding of an office environment.

 

While everyone in the office is working towards the same general goal, people really do work independently for the majority of the work. When I say independently, I mean each person is tucked away in their respective offices, collaborating over the phone or email. Every so often someone will venture into another’s workspace to break up the day, but the conversations really only last for a few minutes, leaving the rest of the day quiet and productive. No pranks, no slacking off, just productive work and the occasional office lunch to blow off steam.

upset the office GIF

 

My job consisted of introducing myself to everyone in the office and learning about their individual jobs. After I was acquainted with people, I started to get small assignments like sending out emails to our supporters, or filling out spreadsheets, or answering the phone at the empty reception desk. Every now and then I would be sent out of the office to meetings about health care, or even Senate hearings where I took notes for the rest of the office. The majority of my job, however, was simply to sit at my desk and learn as much as I could about the organization.

 

This exposure to the workforce was incredibly interesting and beneficial, but for reasons, I was not expecting. I learned that The Office is not a credible resource for learning about how offices actually run and that internships are not the most exciting experiences I will have in my lifetime. I also learned that good posture, a smile, and a firm handshake, go a long way when it comes to networking. The most important thing I learned is that if you find something you’re passionate about, working in an office won’t feel like working in an office at all. Many of the people I met at my internship had experienced boring office jobs or even been involved in extremely active and exciting jobs before their current positions. But once they found an organization that they could feel good working for, the work didn’t seem like work anymore.

 

happy the office GIF