Where are the pens?
I have had the pleasure of interning for four companies (Sage Hill School, Majestic Realty, Align Real Estate, and Katerra) over the past six years. Scattered throughout California, they all involved the built environment in some capacity, all surrounded me with great co-workers, and all of them were working towards a vision I believed in.
What should I wear?
And they were all really hard.
Do people eat lunch together?
By most accounts I have done a pretty good job at the work I have been given; internships, part time and full time included. But during those internships it was not always clear it was going to work out that way.
Is it ok to come in early and leave early?
One of the companies I interviewed with this past year said that interns are basically a free option for the company. They get to test drive a new car with the opportunity to return if found unreliable. In some ways this is accurate, but it didn’t exactly leave the best taste in my mouth, is that all my (quickly dwindling in number!) summer is worth?
Where do I sit?
While not particularly suave to say, I struggled at the beginning of each of the internships. I often wondered what I should be doing, was I doing something wrong, should I ask more questions, am I asking too many. I’ve thrived when able to set expectations for myself and those people I was reporting to, but during those 8-12 weeks, it is just hard to know what exactly you’re going to be capable of. I was hesitant to agree to milestones I wasn’t sure were within my still-unknown capabilities, which made me feel like I wasn’t adding a ton of value.
Do people go out after work?
Frustration built on both sides.
Am I invited to that meeting?
This process spirals and accelerates over those first few weeks. There isn’t a ton to do, then you’re drowning with no clear idea where the flotation device is located, then the work seems to evaporate and you’ve got literally nothing to do again.
Is there a company directory?
I don’t have a set of buzzfeed-esque tips and tricks to survive the experience, but I’ll share the good advice I got: keep showing up and keep saying yes. Like your parents have probably been saying since you were three, do the best you can. If it doesn’t work out, then you probably shouldn’t be looking to go back full time. If it does go well, considering sticking around, and at minimum stay in contact as you return to school.
Who is that, who do they report to?
If you get lucky, one day it all just seems to click. You know who to alert when the copier breaks, you know who to email to find that answer that has alluded you, you help a new hire find the K-cups. Eventually, you reach that point where you know what you need to get done, you know how to get there and you can actually go out and do it.
Who do I ask for help?
But the bad news is, if these things are happening it probably means your time is coming to an end. In the best case, you’ll have a few weeks of feeling good before start your goodbyes.
Do you want me back?
TD // 8/23/16