Let’s Talk About Internships

“Don’t ask me, I’m just the intern!” I joked before our donor replied in a serious tone, “Interns are people too.” This resonated with me as I realized the lack of respect I had been experiencing in my position as “the intern.” I had laughed off my lack of knowledge out of habit. Even with a promising resume, a colorful portfolio, and an optimistic attitude, I was the intern fetching coffee. Well, not quite, but pretty close. 

I was eager to make a difference through my work, but my talents were put on the backburner. As a senior seeking to obtain a job after graduation, I wanted to learn everything I could while still in school and able to make mistakes. I learned two weeks into this experience that I was capable of more, just not tasked with it.

To quote a conversation I had with my boss as she shared with me that my position had been terminated, “There’s bitch work, but I gave you respectable bitch work to do.” This conversation raised a red flag. Realizing that I had wasted my time at a well known, successful organization that thought of me only as their go-to person for tasks they did not want to do themselves affected me mentally and caused me to question my worth as an employee. 

Being told my position had been cut was a relief, although I wish I had made the conscious choice to leave sooner. When I should have been furthering my skills and taking one step forward, instead I was dragged three steps back and left to struggle. While this is not the case with all internships, it was a rude awakening for me. When placed in an environment that does not encourage growth, employees, and especially interns, lack motivation. I dreaded going to work. I counted down the minutes until I could leave. And I left with no more than a line on my resume. 

So, what did I take from this experience? For anyone looking for an internship: Look for the positive in all circumstances. Keep a smile on your face. Remain professional. And remember: Do not work where you are not respected, do not work where you are not learning, and most of all have the strength to know your worth and communicate that to others. Go where you grow.