Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Staying Positive at Work

The purpose of the internship is for the intern to work in a company environment that represents exactly what it would be like to work there full-time. It is for the employee to get a taste of what a full-timer does and this is why internship programs usually end in full-time offers –if both parties are content, that is. Thus, internship programs are a great way to get experience in terms of working. But in my opinion, the experience does not stop just at the work environment. Summer internships for a lot of students in college take place in cities other than the city of their college or their hometown. On top of that, interns are surrounded by people with whom they are usually not around. For these reasons, along with the change in lifestyle from spring semester at school to summer semester at work, interns experience a change in perspective and personality during their time as interns. At least that is what happened to me.

As an intern in a city I had never been to before, not only was I exposed to the working culture but I also saw the local culture outside of the office. To my advantage, my internship started right after I left school in Boston, and I had no time to relax before starting my job. Because of this, my subconscious mind went through a quick and unexpected change. I know this because I began to realize that I was thinking differently, prioritizing new things, beginning to play guitar for the first time, and considering my career in a whole new way. These changes could not have happened because of my internship alone; they were related to an entire change in lifestyle and location. I took form this that interning brings with it a whole other set of changes for the young individual. Since internships are reflections of the real working life, I have no doubt that after college I will experience similar and probably more drastic changes in lifestyle and mindset. I am sure that everybody else my age will as well.

This is a very comforting realization for me. Previously I was afraid of graduating because I thought it would signal the end of my so-called “youth” and good times. But I was wrong. Every new phase in one’s life comes with a package of new dimensions from which one can learn and this alone is a reason to be excited about it. There is no doubt, as I have mentioned, that the young full-time worker, like the intern, is sensitive to the great changes that present themselves in every aspect of life upon arrival in the new workplace.

While my opinion is that this reason makes the transition exciting, I cannot forget to consider the negative aspect of these effects on the individual –the more important realization that I will try to explain:

I cannot deny that, as an intern, my work seemed repetitive at times. Since I am inexperienced and young, it is understandable that I was given tasks that others simply did not want to do and could delegate to me. There were moments throughout my internship where I felt a little unmotivated because I knew that my abilities were much better than the work that was given to me. I’ve already established that the work environment has a big impact on life outside of it and I can prove that idea by saying how I could tell that on the least motivated days, my post-work attitude was duller than on days where I had challenging tasks. I decided to tell one of the persons in upper management about how I felt and it was through the conversation we had that I made the more important realization. We spoke about how working is much different than going to school: when you go to school you have challenging things to overcome every day such as tests and assignments, but when you are at work you mostly do the same, or very similar, things every single day without a grade to let you know that you are doing well. A lot of people get frustrated by this at work and, since work is so influential in their lives, they are negatively affected all-around. Also, we spoke about having a good level of temperance and not indulging in activities, like drinking alcohol or partying, that might temporarily satisfy the missing excitement in one’s work life because in the end, they will only add to one’s demise. By staying positive throughout even the most boring days at my internship, I had a mindset that allowed me to seize the sporadic opportunities to learn a lot in the midst of the repetitiveness of my days. I believe that if you stay content in your work life, as unexciting as it may be compared to school, you will make more progress than you ever did at school because the few challenges that present themselves at work will be more valuable than the thousands of mini-challenges you had during your schooling. But these grand challenges will not come if you have a negative attitude towards your job, or if you allow the seeming repetitiveness of it affect the other aspects of your life.