Thoughts on Being a Perpetual Intern

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This is Blair and Dan on ‘Gossip Girl,’ during their internship at ‘W.’

I hate that when I meet people for the first time, I have to tell them I’m an intern. It’s not really a sexy job to talk about, possibly because most of my friends have concrete titles to attach to their handshake, but I usually laugh my discomfort off. To date, I’ve had five internships. They range as far as location, payment (which is sometimes not applicable), and job titles, and cover anything from publishing, office management, social media, and writing.

With that hefty background, I vainly give you . . .

THOUGHTS ON INTERNSHIPS FROM A PERPETUAL INTERN

Voilá! I know. I am such an expert at this.

At first they’re going to be awkward and awful.

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They sure will! As much enthusiasm as you juice up before you go into that office, you’re going to either a) make enough mistakes to feel like crap or b) realize that you idealized the job. It just happens, and while you can laugh about being so young, so idealistic later on, you just need to truck through the awkward first three weeks or so. Just do your best and keep reminding yourself that they’re paying you to do these tasks but you’re also new and you’re willing to learn. They hired you for a reason! Just do your best and remind yourself that your best is worth the peanuts they’re paying you.

Don’t compare yourself

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I do this naturally, so it’s harder to do than say. But it’s really true. Some internships are competitive because there will be more than on intern there, and this causes a barometer effect. It makes you take a look at yourself, then at Successful Intern Stephan and ask, “Why am I not assimilating as well as that guy? What’s wrong with me?”

First, nothing is wrong. Stephan is a different person and works in a different way. I’m going to reassure you now that that’s just okay.

Don’t get competitive

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I like it best when we as interns try to get along. Maybe it’s my pacifist nature and maybe it’s because I only get competitive when I’m playing charades during Christmas. Either way, I think it’s just balls when interns get this way. Hardly anyone does, but those people exist because they watched too many Degrassi and think life is high school. It’s way more fun when you’re friends with your fellow interns. You might even start a blog together.

It’s what you make it

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I heard that over and over again when I went into internships, and I didn’t get it fully until more recently. Look, you’re going to get too comfortable in what you’re doing. You’ll have a list of certain tasks to perform hitting those tasks will be your struggle the first weeks. Then things that took an entire day will take a few hours, and you’ll have more down time. You’ll have to keep pushing yourself. You do this by coming up with other ideas or talking to your boss or talking to other people in the office.

We, Poor Writers, did it with the blog at our internship. We had all of this free reign over it and we would brainstorm new posts and look at tumblr together. We asked to leave the office to make videos, we made fliers, we designed ads. We thought of other things we wanted to try and just asked. That’s hard at some places, but really, the worst that can happen is that you’re told “no.” But don’t freak out about it. Just know that that’s something they’re not interested in and try something else.

Try new things

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Personally, I decided to do internships because of commitment. I vaguely understood what I wanted to do, but I didn’t trust myself or my skills to get that job. I also didn’t want to get stuck in a job I disliked, so I used internships to test the waters.

Frankly, I don’t know if that’s right, and it results in having five different internships, though I have to say that I owe a lot to this process. I thought I could be a person who could work, then write on the off hours. I thought that I could be the person to answer phones for the rest of her life. But I realized that I enjoy talking to people, I enjoy writing, and I enjoy humor.

Sure I’ll probably end up working in a coffee shop, a desk, or retail after this internship is done, but I have a better idea of what jobs I want to pursue now. I also have tons of experience, new friends, and stories to show for it.

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3 thoughts on “Thoughts on Being a Perpetual Intern

  1. As someone who is also on internship #5, this is so real. great advice for less experienced interns but also for us old hats. Perhaps someone will hire us someday, but at least we’re not at home eating bonbons and passing it off as research (unlike me sitting at home watching hours upon hours of tv, which is research for my desire to be a TV writer lol). #poorwritersunite

    • It’s really comforting to hear that it’s not just me! I’ve met a couple of other people saying they’re on Internship Number Blank and I can’t tell when the cycle ends. I’m glad that we’re trying at least, though I do go home at the end of the day to eat bonbons.

  2. Pingback: To Workshop, Or Not To Workshop? That Is The Question | Poor Writers

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