What were you doing exactly one year ago?
One year ago I was sitting on intern row as the New Business intern at an advertising agency likely writing a proposal or designing a powerpoint deck. I loved every minute of it. I thought my dream job had fallen into my lap and that I would work in New Business forever and ever.
Exactly one year later I’m sitting at my own desk in a small 4 person office working in Economic Development. I’m currently multitasking checking our social media feed, brainstorming a communication strategy and overseeing our intern create native content for social and the website. And I equally love it. I’m a big believer that life pushes you to where you need to be. I was given a hard push out the first job nest, but I’ve been fortunate to have a soft landing with a strong support system to catch me.
5 months ago on a Friday afternoon I was called into the conference room and told I no longer had a job. The agency wasn’t in a good financial place, and myself and 4 others would have to be let go. I was blindsided. I was devastated. I felt every emotion, but ultimately landed on the reassurance that everything happens for a reason and this was part of my path.
I watched a lot of Greys Anatomy. A lot. I went on interviews. I had good days and bad days. And then an amazing opportunity feel into my lap only a month later.
Thanks to social media and very kind recommendations, I was introduced to the Research Triangle Regional Partnership team and asked to come on as the Marketing Coordinator. I feel so fortunate to have such a strong support system of people who looked out for me and guided me to where I am now.
I can’t believe that only one year ago I was an intern and now I manage an intern at the partnership. 2 years back I wrote a blog post titled “The Major Flaw in Internships.” I had just finished my worst internship and was bursting to vent about it. Now that I’m in a position to manage an intern, I take my younger self’s advice to heart.
“I believe internships have two purposes. 1.To teach a young individual a set of valuable and applicable job skills and 2. To help him or her decide if this is a field he or she would like to go into. Internships shouldn’t be about making a young adult run an errand or do the work someone else doesn’t feel like doing that day. The tasks should be thought out practical assignments with deadlines and carved out time for mentorship.”
Each day before I come into work I think about the projects our intern could work on. I then present a list of options to him and ask which one he’d like to work on. I want to be sure the projects he spends his time on he has a vested interest in, could be used as part of his portfolio, and that each project can help guide his likes and dislikes in the economic development/ marketing field.
I also make sure I always think of him not as an intern but as my peer. We’re extremely close in age which helps, but there were many times as an intern I felt less than or inferior because of my “intern” status. I try hard to not make him feel that way. We’re peers working on the same projects and sharing ideas. Great projects are rarely the outcome of a single person. And you never know what someone else can teach you.
I challenge anyone reading this to take a look at your internship program and make sure your interns feel valued and are doing valuable work. My personal goal is to make sure I’m providing mentorship to any intern who comes through the partnership. It’s easy to get caught up in your own laundry list of to do items, but internships should be a thought out learning experience mentoring an intern toward a dream job or career.
One year ago I was the intern and thanks to that internship; I landed where I am now.
You never know where you might be in one years time.