Growing up is tough. We all want to stay in that delightfully comfortable place of having freedom yet no real responsibilities. Essentially, that place is your college years. You can do whatever you want yet not worry about mortgages, 9-5 hours (or worse), and real responsibilities (besides not flunking out).
During this time (or during high school if you’re ambitious like that) we get a small glance into what the real world and real responsibilities could be like. I present to you, the summer internship. For ten glorious weeks, we young adults get to face the impending doom that is the work force. Some choose the non-profit, others choose banks, the list goes on and the opportunities are endless. Regardless of which internship you choose, there are 5 things that will make or break your summer internship, i.e. 5 things that will make you never want to leave college or 5 that will make you timidly excited to fully enter adult life.
You generally know, depending on what kind of internship you choose, what your workload is going to be. If you’re going the investment banking route, I’m afraid to tell you that you will not have a life this summer. You will have more work and more hours than you could possibly imagine. Sorry, your fault. On the other hand, your bosses might underestimate you, not give you enough work, and leave you sitting there with absolutely nothing to do and all the time in the world to sit and commiserate with your other bored friends over text.
Which is worse? BOREDOM.
To our bosses: give us work! That’s right, this whole internship ordeal is as much of a challenge for you as it is for us. Don’t just give us one big project that is supposed to last the entire internship… It won’t. We will finish it before you expect and we will be sitting there counting the hours until we can go home. No work is too mindless. We would rather be filing or sealing envelopes than left to wonder why we’re not still in bed. The ideal internship gives you lots of small projects to work on that keep you preoccupied yet not stressed out of your mind.
If you hate the people you’re working with, you are going to hate the work you’re doing.
Similarly to the workload conundrum, we face the following challenge: co-workers that are too eager overly friendly to the point where you need a shield, and workers that are so cold and mean that you begin to doubt yourself and your abilities.
Which is better? Friends!
Go for the friendly ones. They may not be right up your alley, but they could provide a valuable connection in the future and you never know what you might have in common. Plus, should you not have much work, it’s much better to have someone to talk with than sit alone in depressing isolation. So bosses, be friendly but don’t stalk us! Again, the ideal internship would have a happy medium between the two: co-workers who are interested in you but not overly concerned about your every move. If you can laugh together, you will survive.
3. LUNCH BREAK
This point will be short and sweet. In intern life, the lunch break is huge. We spend hours in the morning thinking about where and when we’ll go and if we have time to make a lunch date with a friend. Do not deprive us of our lunches! Let us get out of the office and stretch our legs. Or if we’re feeling lazy, let us pour over the menus that we can order in from. Whatever the options, just let us choose!
If you choose to intern in the middle of nowhere and hate the commute and are miserable because of it, well that is your mistake.
Of course, if you get a once in a lifetime opportunity at an internship in an undesirable location, go for it! But if you are on the fence between two internships and one will take an hour to get to, go for the other closer one. Waking up an hour early to get to work and then once you’re finally leaving the office at the end of the day just to realize that you won’t be home for another solid hour is heartbreaking. If you do happen down this terrible route, I suggest you invest in some books and create some kick-ass playlists. It’s going to be a long ride.
5. PERSONAL INTEREST
If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to choose an internship in a field that interests you, DO IT! Nothing is worse than sitting in an office while the sun is shining outside knowing that you will never have a career in that industry. Sometimes you try an internship out because you want to see if you’ll like it, or other times you just have to do the job because you have nothing else to do or need the money. There are definitely credible circumstances preventing you from doing something you love, but if you can find an internship that amazes you, you have hit the jackpot. You can finally answer that annoying question that all college students get asked: what do you want to do with your life? (FYI: We’re 20 years old and have absolutely no clue, so please don’t ask. If we knew, we would gloat about it and tell you).
And if it’s something unexpected, do not let anyone tell you it’s not a good choice if you love it.
You’re ultimately the one that is going to be sitting in that office, so you better love it. The job might not be glamorous at first but if you love the work you see going on around you, the hard work and effort to get there will be worth it. Don’t give up!
During my time here as an intern at Sayles and Winnikoff Communications, I’d say I was lucky enough to cover all the bases. My work was interesting, my coworkers were fun and supportive, I got to eat wherever and whenever I wanted, and the location is fantastic! I could not have asked for a better team to welcome me and work with and I will truly miss them when I leave!
Well done S&W team, you have passed the internship challenge!
-Charlotte LeMaire, Princeton ’15