Doing an internship has become a common act for millennials who are trying to enter a competitive work industry. I recently finished a three-month internship with a successful media publication. When asked for program feedback on my last day there, I told them that at times there was nothing for me to do because each day they had multiple interns available for tasks. When I agreed to the internship, I assumed that I’d be the only intern there (because that’s how all my previous internships worked). But as I look back now, I realise that working alongside other interns actually had some benefits. So, here’s why you should do it…
- You learn to kill comparison.
At that internship, some of the interns got their stories published. I was not one of them. At first, I was extremely jealous. I desperately wanted to get published by that popular publication, but my creative juices simply refused to flow at the time. The jealousy soon turned into the comparison-monster: Why can’t I get published too? Am I not good enough for this line of work? Does my boss regret giving me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?
Thankfully, I soon realised that jealousy, and the act of comparing, were to assist me in no way. Rather than turning into a Regina-George-type-of-person, I learnt how to be genuinely happy for my fellow interns: they created impressive work, and that deserved my congratulations. I also learnt how to stop comparing and truly listen to this cool quote I found on Tumblr:
“Stop comparing where you’re at with where everyone else is. It doesn’t move you farther ahead, improve your situation, or help you find peace. It just feeds your shame, fuels your feelings of inadequacy, and ultimately, it keeps you stuck. The reality is that there is no one correct path in life. Everyone has their own unique journey.” – Daniell Koepke
- You learn to be a team-player.
Co-workers are part of a team, and interns are their own mini (unpaid) team. If you work alongside other interns, you learn about what it means to have someone else’s back at work. When everyone else in the office is too busy to hold a proper conversation with you or go and grab a meal with you at lunchtime, your fellow interns are there for you. You help them understand how WordPress works when they’re too embarrassed to ask a staff member, and in return they give you golden advice based on their own experiences – like who you should ‘CC’ in an email if you want to make sure your pitches actually get read.
- You make like-minded friends.
Before doing my internship, I had an awesome group of friends (and still do). But none of them studied the same thing as me at university, had a similar passion for writing, or obsessed over the same publications that I did. During my internship, I befriended people who studied similar things to what I studied, were also pursuing a career in the media industry, and who genuinely enjoyed reading from the same publications as me. And it was awesome! We read each other’s stories, and complained about the same stuff on our secret ‘interns-only’ Facebook group.
When you’re not the only intern at a company, you get the chance to meet and befriend like-minded people. Despite your differing backgrounds, you have things in common: you obviously all love the company you intern for (why else would you work for free?), and you’re all desperately trying to kick-start your dream career. Who knows? Your intern-peers today could be your co-workers tomorrow, your pathway towards a real job, or even your support system as you continue to try and make a name for yourself – and that’s pretty priceless!
This story was also published on Elite Daily.