Survivor

Internship, New York—The First Month

Internships are like the awkward preteen years of your career. You’re underdeveloped (in skills), you’re new to the office, you’re not making any money. Nobody understands you.

I’m in the first two weeks of a new internship, and I’m struck, again, by how uncomfortable the whole situation is. I have three months—like a year condensed—then it’s all over.

For most, three months is what it takes to acclimate to a new job. It’s that magical time: anything is possible and coworkers are friendly; supervisors are forgivable and amiable. But when three months pass, the boss says, “Charlie, hurry up already with those projections, huh? Time is burning. And what’s with that tie?” For me, time has already burnt. There were expectations when I walked through the door. I am to make the most of my time, to launch, refine or develop new or current projects. No dilly dallying, procrastinating. No strolling in late with a latte.

But I’ve been here before. This is my third internship, hopefully my last, and I know the drill.

I need to be on the ball. I need to be completely aware of my surroundings. I need to impress and smile and network and work hard. Truth be told, I thrive in this environment. I love the high stakes nature of it all. I love finding an unmet niche in an overworked department and solving problems they didn’t know could be solved. Still, if my tone reads as exhausted, it’s because I am. I’m ready for something permanent, a place where my accomplishments can truly disrupt the system and change it for the better. I’m tired of joining a team, and leaving still. (more…)

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