Before starting this internship I was prepared to commit eight hours a day to work and I hoped the rest of my days would be spent exploring beautiful San Francisco. After day one I learned that things at a start-up and change quickly and fairly drastically. One has to learn to pivot and how to be flexible.
Pivoting can be defined as an exchange sacrifice or an opportunity cost; the company changes their business strategy in order to gain a different set of advantages. Since this is exactly what my company is doing, the change affects all teammates, even interns.
With a team of only 5 people, every ounce of manpower helps and is appreciated so I have scrapped my 8 hour work day and have learned to adapt to last minute changes and requests. For example, yesterday, we were asked to cohost an event put on by SOCAP. My day began at 8AM and ended at 12:30AM. This is why I stress the importance of truly loving what you do for a living, it will make long days feel less stressful. I have also learned that many times when I have a schedule change it is because there is something so valuable happening that my supervisors believes it is worth the extra hours; and they are usually right. I encourage you to look beyond the time commitment and consider why you were asked to come and be a part of this experience. On the other hand, it is also important to have a life away from work and to be able to evaluate a situation and know when to opt out of certain activities.
Flexibility does not only apply to schedule changes. Being flexible means that you are reliable and independent; you don’t need constant instructions or aid from your supervisor. When faced with a task you should do as much preparation as possible before bogging down others for help. If you are not familiar with aspects of the task do some research! This also touches on the idea that early on in your career journey; you will have to perform tasks that don’t interest you. Don’t complain. Do them. You may be surprised by what you learn from these uninteresting tasks. And then there will be those menial tasks such as making the coffee every morning or doing the dishes after lunch (my least favorite intern duty), still do them. You will not learn much from these tasks but your supervisors will notice that you are willing to do them without complaining and that speaks to your work ethic.
In ASM we learn the importance of pivoting for businesses but that same idea applies to individuals.