Internships have become vital forms of work experience for people trying to get their foot in the door of competitiveindustries.
I recently finished a three-month internship with a successful media publication. When asked for program feedback on my last day, I told themthere were times whentherewas nothing for me to do because each day, they had multiple interns available for tasks.
I thought Id be the only intern there, but I definitely wasnt. During my internship, I constantly saw this as a negative. When you go to an office each day expecting to be given a days work and youre left twiddling your thumbs, its easy to feel frustrated.
As I look back now, I realize working alongside other interns actually had some benefits.
Here are three of them:
1. You learn to kill comparison.
During my internship, some of the interns got their stories published. I was not one of them.
At first, I was extremely jealous of my peers. I desperately wanted to get published by that popular publication, but sadly, my creative juices simply refused to flow.
The jealousy I felt soon turned into the ugly comparison monster: Why cant 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 quicklyrealized that jealousy, and the act of comparing, were to assist me in no way.
Rather than turning into a Regina George type of gal, I learned how to be genuinely happy for my fellow interns: They had created impressive original work, and that deserved my congratulations.
I also learned how to stop comparing and truly listen to this quote I found on Tumblr:
Stop comparing where youre at with where everyone else is. It doesnt 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.
2. You learn to be a team-player.
Co-workers are part of a team, and within that, interns are their own mini (unpaid) team. If you go about your dayalongside other interns, you learn about what it means to have someone elses back at work.
When everyone else in the office is too busy to hold a proper conversation with you or go grab a meal with you at lunchtime, your fellow interns are there for you.
You help them understand how WordPress works when theyre 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.
3. You make like-minded friends.
Before startingmy internship, I had an awesome group of friends (and I still do). But none of them studied the same thing as me in college, had a similar passion for writing or obsessed over the same publications I did.
During my internship, I befriended people who studied similar things to what I studied, were also pursuing careers in the media industry and genuinely enjoyed reading from the same publications as me. It was new, and it was awesome.
We read each others articles and blog posts, and we became one when we complained about our internship experiences inour secret interns only Facebook group.
When youre 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 youre all desperately trying to kick-start your dream career.
Who knows? Your intern peers today could be your co-workers tomorrow.
They could also be your pathway toward a real job, or even your support system as you continue to try and make a name for yourself.
And thats pretty priceless.
This article was originally published on the authors personal blog.
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