Midsummer Internship Chronicle
That's why it makes sense, halfway through the summer, to take stock of your internship. How is it going? Are you a good fit for the position? What do you think of the company? Are you behaving up to specs? We at Vault.com spoke to current interns to find out how their summers were going. Even if you're making some mistakes, there's still time to change!
Are you an arrogant intern?
Do you scowl at the request for a file or a cup of coffee? One intern for a publishing company admitted to Vault.com that his arrogance may hurt him a bit. When asked if he found his superiors intimidating, he said "no, perhaps it is the other way around." Remember - as much as people think the proud idealism and confidence of college students endearing, even admirable, they will also have a tendency to see it as naive. One former intern pointed out that "to be open minded in an internship, is different from keeping an open mind in college, where the options are the likes of 'to be or not to be a vegetarian'." Remember to accept the limited experience that you have compared to an established superior.
One former intern who worked for the French Ministry of Culture found that she was not fluent in French as she thought - she had a hard time understanding the language over the phone. She had such a hard time, in fact, that whenever her phone rang, she would dash off to, as she says, "take cover in the bathroom (next door) and listen to the phone while it rang sans voice mail incessantly. This intern spent "much time spent in the bathroom." But just think - if she had picked up the phone and apologized for her inability to communicate, callers would likely have responded well and helped the intern to improve.
At the same time, don't worry if you're missing the spunkiness of your co-interns. According to one MTV producer who interned at the company before moving up the ranks, "the best interns are the ones who quietly and efficiently do good work. The worst ones are the ones who think they can schmooze their way into a job." ~
Does the shoe fit?
Don't forget to assess your workplace. One former intern advises: "Be conscious of offering your assistance to people and smile a lot. But on the flip side of that, I think that most interns are so concerned with pleasing their employers and being offered a full-time position that they never take the right steps toward determining if this is really the job they want. This is really the best opportunity to find out of this is the career for you. Take advantage." Another intern for a newspaper in Virginia remembers, "I definitely wanted my editor at the [paper] to think I was a good journalist, despite the fact that I really wasn't. So I would pretty much do whatever she told me to."
Intern faus pax
Finally, don't be too self-conscious as an intern. Think you've screwed up? Faus pax are par for the course. For all the midsummer interns, here's a true tale to help celebrate having made it halfway through the summer.
[Intern at an Investment Bank] "I was sent to help out this British guy who, upon my arrival in his office, threw a bunch of binders at me and instructed me to copy them and "typex" the labeled items. I had no idea what "typex" meant and left the office, trying to reference the term. I couldn't. I summoned up all the courage I could and marched back into the office. I told him that I was just an intern and didn't understand the term but if he explained it to me I'd pick it up quickly enough. He reached into his drawer and pulled out a container of white-out. The brand name was Typex."
- A plate full of gripes
[American intern at the French Ministry of Culture] "I went into the ministry [cafeteria] and was invited to sit down with my boss Phillipe and his friends. I didn't know what to order. I followed right behind Phillipe and said, 'I'll have the same.' I ended up with a whole plate of gripes, which are apparently intestines of some sort. Because the French are so touchy about their food, I felt the need to eat the entire plate. I've never felt so sick in my entire life."