This past summer I was lucky enough to land an internship in my field of Urban and Regional Studies, receive credits to graduate, and an extra bonus, I got paid too! I was so excited to be in a professional setting to see what my career would be like after graduation, but it turned out to not be what I was anticipating or hoping for. Although I did take away a lot of new knowledge and skills, it is also making me question myself…Is this really the right field of study for me? Now what do I do?
The reason my summer internship was not everything I was hoping for was because I did not enjoy the work I was doing; it’s hard to maintain motivation when you feel like the work you’re doing is simply busy work. I also felt as if I had a lot of free time because they were not giving me enough busy work, imagine that! This pushed me a little out of my comfort zone because I was constantly asking all of the supervisors for work or if they needed help with anything. Sure, I ended up just copying or stapling pamphlets a lot of the time, but it was better than staring at a computer screen driving myself to have a crazy headache. This also showed my superiors that I was a proactive worker, well I would like to think it did at least. As an intern, you have to realize that you are at the bottom of the totem pole, yet it stinks being at the bottom because the work can be boring. But remember, you have to start at the bottom to work your way to the top.
The other part that was difficult about the work was that I was given a lot of actual work, but I was not given direction. Of course it is nice to have room to be creative and add your own touch, but it is also scary because you really do not know if it is what your supervisor is looking for, and if it is not, they will not hesitate to keep sending it back to you until it is. Specifically, for my internship, one of the main reasons that the work I performed was not the most enjoyable was that I was not with the company long enough to see the end result. For example, the majority of the work I did was with new plans to improve cities. These plans would take at least a year to implement, but I only had my internship for four months. This was not rewarding because I never got to see my work actually being carried out or fulfilled.
So if you ever have an internship, co-op, or even a job that you do not enjoy, just stick it out. This is not your job for the rest of your life, and I know that you will take at the least one valuable skill away from your experience. Turn your attitude into a positive one and try to make the most out of it. What helped me get through my internship was to realize that the overall lessons I will take away will actually help me succeed in the working world. I now know how to better communicate with coworkers, manage difficult personalities, deal with stress, prioritize my workload, and work in a team environment. Now the big question for myself was what am I going to do with my career life now since I did not find what I thought I wanted to do pleasurable? If you want to know how I went forward with this big question, stay tuned for part 2.
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Photo by: Unsplash | Amanda Sandlin