23 Things I Learned From Being An Intern

The Devil Wears Prada
The Devil Wears Prada

Sometimes, a day passes fast I barely notice I’ve been typing for eight hours. And sometimes, it happens slow I’m already so tired but it’s just 10 AM. Honestly, I was culture-shocked. They didn’t tell me that a boss may or may not treat me as an actual employee, and they didn’t tell me it will be scary. One night I thought, “Do I want this? How many people work in something they don’t really like?” But I have come to keep in mind these are steps for my future. A bright future. It may or may not have included accidentally spilling coffee on my write-ups, though.

1. I learned how to answer phone calls. Professionally. I learned how to mouth words to my co-intern about an entirely different thing while still staying on the line attending to a client. I could be saying “This is so dumb!” to my co-intern while politely responding “Yes, I understand” on the phone.

2. That the thing about the bigger world, you really shouldn’t just trust people. You don’t take their words on face value, because they might not hold on to it. Hence, they will upset you and disappoint you.

3. Be selfish enough to know that the only one who could take care of you is yourself. Friends come and go, especially on the workplace. Every single one of you is fishing for approval. Those people higher than you don’t necessarily reward you for being nice.

4. I befriended an eleven-year-old kid. We hung out in the morning when my boss is still not around. One time I was half-asleep beside her and I caught her writing. It says “Dear Diary,” and I smiled because I didn’t expect kids these days to still keep a journal. It made me think that sometimes I tend to forget being honest even to myself.

5. Be nice to Housekeeping department.

6. We kind of got obsessed over lunch. I have this co-intern whom when I see abruptly standing up, I’ll know it’s time to eat.

7. Working on a holiday is the buzzkill of all buzzkills.

8. Keep smiling, anyway. It improves people’s moods. And yours.

9. I didn’t realize the sheer importance of paperclips until I started in the workplace. One time when we ran out of supply (and I was too lazy to get something from the stack room), I literally searched all possible drawers for paperclips. I found three. The pretty loud “HAH!” I made disturbed my boss from typing her e-mail. Oops.

10. Taking a break in-between typing is important. I get up and leave the room to roam the hallways for a while. It eases the muscle tension (and the mental stress I get when I see the brooding presence of my boss just by the corner, waiting for my write-up).

11. I got to discover that working on production is very tiring but it’s the good kind of tired. It’s the exhaustion that means I did very well.

12. Levelled up social skills. Small talks are so much better. I don’t have to talk about the weather for the sake of talking about something.

13. Always ask how people are. Don’t talk about yourself too much. Ask questions, nod (or laugh, or shake your head). Ask more questions. People like getting asked questions that would lead them to tell you more stories. Hopefully, not stories about their exes. You’re not prepared for that.

14. Slightly brushing your hand on someone’s back or arm while talking to them would help them relax. Especially if they’re on a bad mood and what you’ll tell them might aggravate them. I discovered the magic of this and it always works. (Warning: Don’t do this to someone not familiar with you. You might freak them out. People have personal space issues, you know.)

15. Remember people’s names.

16. Work efficiently so they’ll remember yours.

17. I tell my co-interns to not talk about work during breaks. We never did, but we talked about school. Hm.

18. You’ll miss being a student so much.

19. The mere thought of working in the morning makes you upset. The mere thought of going home in an hour makes you giddy.

20. I lose track of dates sometimes. It’s like that episode from Broad City:

[Abbi:] “Sigh. I really don’t feel like going to work today.”

[Ilana:] “TGIF at least.”

[Abbi:] “It’s Tuesday.”

[Ilana:] “Oh, fuck.”

21. Starting our day in the office with the famous pieces of Tchaikovsky is normal. I think it’s our boss’ not-so-subtle attempt to get us interested in classical music. (Yes, it worked. In case you were wondering.)

22. Appreciate thank-yous, even if they’re just over petty things. When you find yourself skeptic about your work performance and/or overall demeanor, remember them.

23. Lastly, surround yourself with passionate people for inspiration. So you’d want to be a better version of yourself every day.

For all its upsides and downsides, I miss that place. I miss mingling with different sorts of people who drops by at the office for inquiries and meetings. I miss getting stressed out and getting happy. It’s worth it. As C.S. Lewis once said, “Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My god, do you learn.” //Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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