Playing right into my millennial stereotype, I am a social media intern who is well versed in the language of gifs. You’ve heard that a picture paints a thousand words but in my opinion, a gif paints a thousand and one. So while sometimes I find myself speechless, I have never found myself gif-less.
I am in the third week of my internship and there’s one thing that has been on my mind: should I be slightly offended or disappointed that no one has ordered me to grab them coffee yet? After all, thanks to movies and tv, being a coffee lacky is the only image that comes to mind when I think of an intern. While I don’t want to grab anyone coffee necessarily, is it some kind of rite of passage or milestone that I, for some reason, need to hit?
Realistically, no. But alas, this is what popular culture has taught me about internships: I will work in a office cubicle, get coffee, make copies, generally do all grunt work and get yelled at by the evil boss who helps me overcome some huge obstacle in my life. Prior to my first day in the office, my expectations of my internship played into this stereotype. The questions on my mind were: what do I wear? Will I make friends? What kind of work will I be doing? And the most important question, will there be dogs?
Life at Fish Marketing has exceeded my expectations. There are, in fact, three very cute dogs that roam the office on most days. I discovered I do not have the willpower to walk right past Ellie, the sweet golden retriever, and not give her some well-deserved love. Our finance guru has (I hope jokingly?) called me out for it on several occasions. College definitely didn’t prepare me for these kind of distractions.
I am still adjusting to office life, especially the open layout, because I have a lot of working habits that are more conducive to being at home. For example, I am constantly listening to music while I work, which ultimately leads to a steady and consistent bobbing of my head and lip-syncing. I think my neighbors wish we had taller cubicles because the intern who sits across from me has conveniently moved his monitor so we can no longer see each other.
While Fish could very well be the exception and not the rule when it comes to internships, my short time at Fish has been nothing short of life-changing. I am aware of how corny this sounds and if you know me, you know that I hate cheese and cheesiness, so I don’t say this lightly.
I think the thing a lot of young people get wrong about internships is that we tend to underestimate the very skills and talent that got us our internship in the first place. It’s easy to lose your voice when you’re the new, inexperienced intern. You start to believe that you are only there to observe and learn and help out where you can. While learning is the basis of an internship, most companies also want the fresh insight and new perspective that a young college grad can provide.
I still tend to raise my hand in meetings and generally keep to myself unless I have a question, but I am slowly learning that not only do people actually want my opinion and input but I add value to these projects. They have enough faith in me to give me real responsibilities and projects and this has allowed me to learn more in the last two weeks than probably my whole college career. What other company would allow an intern to help strategize the digital marketing plan for a 10,000 person event? I’ve been able to sit in on pitch meetings with potential sponsors, work directly with the president of our agency picking photos for ad campaigns and been allowed to creatively explore any avenue I am interested in. While I’ll probably still always get a little bit nervous speaking up and pitching my ideas, as a generally anxious person it helps tremendously to be at a company that allows me to be myself.
To sum this up, if I were to give advice to the next Fish intern: keep dog breaks to a minimum, don’t forget about your voice and what you bring to the table, and try not to annoy your neighbors.