We all know the pressures of getting the perfect internship during your college years. You want the position that will give you the experience and connections necessary to either continue into a full time role or learn more about yourself to move onto different career paths. I took a chance at an internship that was not exactly the "perfect" one for me but one that I definitely knew would challenge me and allow me to grow in my "soft" and "hard" skills.
This past Winter, I was working an internship while also balancing school full time. Now, let me tell you… I was so excited for this opportunity that when I got the call in May 2021, I could not stop screaming and jumping up and down. I had worked for this opportunity, researched the company, and basically did everything I needed to do to secure my position. I felt so content with myself because I knew this opportunity would help open doors for me that I didn't even know were possible.
However, the reality of things was much different. I began this internship (again) extremely excited, but quickly found out that it required me to realign myself in balancing my responsibilities. I had to keep a rigid schedule and stick to deadlines in both areas of my life––school and work. I am not going to lie... it was a hard transition from having free time to barely having time for myself. I had to give up some of the things I enjoyed doing, namely school activities like Her Campus, catching up with friends, and taking long strolls along the National Mall. Nevertheless, I kept reminding myself that it was going to pay off in the future in some way.
I began a rigorous schedule of waking up, showering, eating breakfast, watching the news, and heading straight to my desk. I started my work day with meetings, catching up on emails, and most importantly, communicating with my supervisor to see how my projects were progressing and if there was anything needing assistance. Prior to this, I never worked in a fully remote environment, so this required me to learn new skills such as taking breaks for physical movement, listening to LoFi Beats on Spotify for background noise, and sticking to a routine. One of the most important things I learned is to make your environment comfortable when working in a remote environment because it will help you have a smoother work day, and you will accomplish more!
For three months, this was my routine everyday (even sometimes on Saturdays). In the nights, I would have my classes, which I became more appreciative of since they reminded me that I was still a student.
Towards the middle of my internship, I became increasingly irked because I was finding that my team was not respecting the fact that I was a student first and would make me work past normal business hours. I would dread having to log on because of the lack of training and communication provided by my team and company. Don't get me wrong... I am very grateful to have been granted this opportunity, but it is important to point out that it was not all just sunshine and flowers. I continued to persevere because I wanted to push myself to be the first to reach out to learn more and become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Knowing not to settle for less than you deserve is essential for both job searching and life as a whole.
Finally, I came to the conclusion that pursuing this role full time was not for me. It was difficult to admit, but it was not how I wanted my first full time job out of college to be like. Knowing yourself and what you want is very important when searching for internships and jobs. Knowing not to settle for less than you deserve is essential for both job searching and life as a whole.
Although I did not enjoy the technical side of my internship, I can say that I enjoyed being pushed harder than ever as a professional. I reached new limits I once did not think were possible for myself. I am forever grateful to have been granted this opportunity during my college years.
All in all, I learned a whole lot about myself, business industries, and important transferable skills such as time management, perseverance, and communication (especially in a virtual environment). I learned that the team that you work with defines a lot of how your day to day is going to go. Most importantly, I learned to listen to yourself––when something does not seem like a right fit, it probably isn't.