The Unbearable Lightness Of Being An Intern
Have you ever watched a sequel? Of course, you have, the entire Cineverse is littered with those, writers lacking creativity and producers intent on milking those cash cows down to the last dollar. Where is the originality? Could it be that over the course of the existence of movies, we’ve run out of ideas, that everything has been done and the well has been drained? Okay, that’s definitely not it and those who claim that as an excuse should be shut in a room and made to watch Indie films for 2 days straight. Anyway, I digress. So, we’ve all watched sequels and the common aspect to all sequels is that they never fail to disappoint except obviously the few that you can count which have transcended the movie space and are a part of our lives like The Dark Knight and Empire Strikes Back which admittedly are a breath of fresh air. However, the common theme with sequels as we’ve established is disappointment.
The pace and intensity that people work vary between organisations and also between different verticals and your first experience are key here. If you start at the extremes, it is always going to be difficult. Either you start out in a fast and dynamic environment that when you move on to a slower workplace, you feel frustrated and annoyed or you start out real slow and you move to a faster environment and you’re struggling to keep up. So, when you start out at in retail in a fast growing organisation with a manager who is only keen on implementation and results, there is nowhere to go but down.
Like most people, you see the internship as an experience, an opportunity to learn and understand the organisation. So, if you get some major opportunity for leisure out of it, you welcome it with open hands which is why you hope for a foreign location. Hopefully, do some sightseeing, have fun. When you’ve been sitting on an internship offer for 5 months that makes the call even sweeter. You get to spend 2 months in an exotic foreign location albeit someplace that you would probably be an hour’s drive from the national border. You hype it up as it is known for tourism and check out different places that you would like to visit.
Every internship starts out fun. They put you up in a fancy hotel, have a myriad of fun events that usually involves someone or the other embarrassing themselves and you definitely get to see some people who will do whatever it takes to get a PPO. DCP or for the uninitiated among you, Desperate Class Participation, is something that you can’t escape, it’s like a communicable disease, the more one person does it, more the number of people who feel the need for it. The final result is a cacophony of discordant doubts and replies but at the end of it, you have an HR team that is the happier for it and a team of senior leaders who have the satisfaction of having done something worthwhile and not wasted 2 hours of their time on a bunch of people who are as eager as goldfishes and have the attention span of bees. It has become quintessential for every company on the face of the planet, be it a startup in the e-commerce sector or a national behemoth that has existed longer than most people have been alive, to portray a young and vibrant image.
Usually, something is built up so much, into this giant, earth-shattering event traversing space and time doesn’t get to live up to the hype however good it may or may not be and no, I’m not talking about the Zune. It’s the internship experience. It is simply 2 months of your life that you spend working in the company that chooses you (almost always, not the other way around) that they use to judge you and determine whether you are fit for the company and in rare, extremely minuscule number of cases, you get to see if they fit which if you’re lucky enough you get to witness. It’s kind of like your sports tryouts. You’re working at an advanced pace because you know you have just 2 months to complete a whole lot of things while the rest of the organization probably has their entire professional lives to get things done. Sure, it can be a little frustrating but who can you blame. That’s just what people are used to. You can’t have people working on a timescale of 10 months and suddenly ask them to accelerate to a 2 months pace. All you can do is pray that you get a project where you require little to no help from the permanent staff, the veterans.
So, at the end of 2 months, a lot of people are left with frustration, anxiety and a depreciated value of self. This, from inflated expectations, hype and all else that is associated with it. At the end of it, you get a party where you get to say your goodbyes and make peace with the decision being mostly out of your hands because it’s almost always the least expected things that happen with these decisions. Then, you are left with a few who are extremely happy with what happened, a few others who feel like they have been dealt the worst hand and have been wronged and some who just need some time away from all this to recuperate themselves and build their confidence back up. That is perfectly fine because you have 1 entire year to do that and within a month of travelling to exotic locations on vacation with all that internship money where you get paid unfairly in contrast to the rest of the population will help you do that. That’s where we come back to, a sequel. Your first experience largely determines what happens in your internship and if it is, it’s probably going to be slightly disappointing only because of all the hype.
* Have an internship experience that you want to share anonymously? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org!