Interning as a Sophomore Pretty Much Turned Me Into an Adult

It was the summer before my sophomore year at UMass and I was desperately looking for a job for the upcoming school year. I scanned over the UMass job board every day for two weeks, but every listing was either a conflict with my schedule or I just didn't have the right qualifications. That is, until one day, when I noticed an ad on the board to be an intern for Teach for America. I had never heard of this organization but I clicked on it anyway. The description was vague, but I sent an email to the person who posted about the job and expressed my interest. And not really thinking anything of it, I continued my search.

About two hours later, I received a reply from TFA asking me to send in a resume. I did exactly that. Just a few minutes later, the woman who would soon be my manager called me and we chatted for a while. Eventually, I was hired! I was ecstatic to start my new role as a campus campaign manager. Fast forward seven months and I’m still working for TFA. And I love it — but I’ve definitely grown a bit since I was hired. Here's how:

1. It updated my organization habits.

I always thought I was pretty good at handling my time, but having to keep up with conferences, TFA classroom presentations, TFA student organization presentations, promotion around campus and data entry deadlines on top of schoolwork and maintaining a social life has kept me on my toes. I live by my planner now, whereas before I had this internship, I would just keep track of my work in my head or on my phone. I've officially turned into a Leslie Knope. I obsess over keeping things organized and color code almost everything to keep my sanity in check. 

2. I have a greater sense of responsibility.

Working as an intern taught me that I sometimes need to make sacrifices in order to stay on top of my work. That means if I know I have deadlines coming up and I’m still behind, I need to cancel my plans with friends so I can get the work done. With school work, if you don’t pass something in on time then your grade gets lowered. With work, if you don’t meet your due dates, then other people will be directly affected because of you.

3. I handle stress differently.

I’ve already said how much work goes into every week but I never mentioned the mental and physical toll it takes on me. With this internship, I’ve had days where I felt like I’m on the brink of collapse trying to keep it together. When we were little, adults always seemed to look and act so professionally no matter the situation, but now I know the behind-the-scenes side of things. As a college student, I’ve learned that it’s okay to not be okay, because even grown-ups need to have a moment of weakness every now and then.

4. I plan in advance.

My internship with Teach for America is great because I get my assignments at the start of each week and can basically work at my own pace as long as everything gets done by the following Sunday. As great as this freedom is, it has also taught me that I need to plan my work out far in advance if I want to avoid everything piling up the night before. Remember when professors said, "There’s too much homework to do the night before class”? Yeah, well, I tried to do all my intern work the night before and it was probably one of the worst mistakes I’ve ever made. Now I divide up my work into chunks for each day of the week so that I don't look like zombie Taylor Swift on Monday morning. 

5. I appreciate free time more.

With my schedule so packed everyday, I’ve learned to really love the crap out of my downtime. If I have a few hours to do nothing, then you can bet that I’m already in my sweats with my bra on the floor watching Gossip Girl until Netflix asks if I’m still watching. Or I’m talking my roommate’s ear off about literally anything and everything because I’ve been stuck on my laptop switching between school work and TFA work for the entire day with no one to talk to.

I love my job and I love being kept busy, but there’s no denying that my workload has kicked my ass into the real world. At least I've had a taste of what it’s going to be like in a couple of years after graduation. 

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