You imagined intern life to be a blur of networking events, cosmopolitans, and pencil skirts. But the reality is everyone wears trainers, you’ve stopped wearing makeup after the first week, and the most challenging part of your day is transferring a call. But, remember, even Andy from The Devil Wears Prada had to operate a switchboard before she got front row seats at fashion week.
If you’re still not reassured, then here are my insider tips on how to deal with an internshit:
#1 Use Your Commute
It’s easy to see your commute as a dead part of your day, which only adds to the frustration of an unfulfilling time at work. So, I decided to use this time to do the things I claim that I don’t have time for. You could learn a language, finish that short story you started in college, make a blog or get into world literature. You have the time, so you have no excuse!
#2 Proactive scheduling
If you really want to get something from your internship, you have to be proactive. I have taken to sending a weekly email to my boss where I outline my job list for the week, and then I suggest what else I could do. This is a great way to ensure you have something to do every day without bothering anyone, it shows initiative as you can plan your own diary, whilst making sure that you are getting the most from them and learning from them too.
#3 Deal with the stress
Sometimes you just have a bad day. You’ve done market research for eight hours straight and you officially hate spreadsheet databases. It’s easy to be overwhelmed, then end up taking advantage of 2-4-1 cocktails, and sending a hasty resignation email.
On these days, I write down every little niggle – my train was delayed so I got in even later, I didn’t get to edit anything, that person didn’t email me back, etc. – and write a positive affirmation to take from that experience. I’ll make sure the next day that I ask for editorial work, I’ll send follow-up emails to get the answers I want, and my train being delayed meant that I managed to finish the book I’ve been reading.
#4 Make sure it’s still best for you
Whether you are on a paid three-month agreement, or two weeks unpaid work experience, you have to find a balance between helping out your employer and prioritizing your goals. The only way to do this is by being honest.
If you have run out of things to do, say what you have done for them and then say, ‘But my afternoon is free if anyone would like any help.’ I use these opportunities to say I’ve done this for you now but is there any production work I can help with, which is what I want to do/learn. Strike a balance.
I’d love to hear about your coping mechanisms. How have you made the most of a bad experience?
Written by Chelsea Eddy.
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