All of you have done it. Someone asks, “Where do you work?” and you feel your stomach drop when you think of the words about to come out of your mouth before you even say anything. It tends to come out a little something like “I work at (insert organizations name here) but I’m JUST an intern.” Stop right there. No, you are not “just an intern.” I mean you are, but why does everyone have to say it like that? Do you have to tell them that as if being an intern is not actual employment?
Is it just me or does every intern feel this way? Why is it that because “intern,” is in your job title you feel like you don’t actually work there, or you don’t get excited when people ask you what you do/where you work. Newsflash, you are probably still in college if you are an intern and being an intern is a great accomplishment that you should be proud of. You are getting that “real world” experience everyone says you need, you are getting paid (some of you aren’t, kudos to you, it still looks great on the resume), and you are learning what it will be like when you reach that big day called graduation when you aren’t waking up to go to class anymore.
Now, don’t get me wrong, not everyone feels this way. If you don’t, good. You shouldn’t. But, for those of us that do, let me tell you how you should be feeling and what you should be doing.
Make it yours:
You won’t be in this position for a very long time. So glean insights from those around you. Maybe this information comes from your boss, your coworkers, or even a person from a different department that has a position you might want some day. ASK QUESTIONS. You are there to learn, so make it about what you want to know (along with what you have to know to get that job done of course). But, remember to make it something you look back on and appreciate. Not just because it looks good on your resume, but because you actually learned things you wanted to learn.
Know that your part matters:
Luckily for me, I interned at a place that didn’t make me go on coffee runs (unless I offered), staple stacks of papers, or any of those things you see in movies that “come with being an intern.” I was given a multitude of opportunities to do things that the employees did every day, and spoiler, it was fun. But, if you’re in a place that needs your assistance with those tasks, know that you are performing tasks that still help the company, whatever they may be.
Your part matters. If you did not have skills needed to be in that position, you wouldn’t be there, because more likely than not, you beat out others that wanted the same position. Everyone starts somewhere in their career before they reach the top. This internship is just the start of you navigating your career path, believe it or not, and you will get to where you want to be eventually. A place where you feel excited to answer the “What do you do/Where do you work?” question.
So, the next time someone asks you “the question,” be sure to have the confidence in your voice that you should. You are gaining knowledge for the future, enhancing the skills that got you to this place, and gaining great experience all at once; you are being an awesome intern!