Adultish: The bad internship
Internships are a great opportunity for students to get experience in their desired career path. But they don’t always go as planned.
Audrey Bowers is a senior creative writing major and writes "Adult-ish" for The Daily News. Her views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Audrey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s a difference between explaining what you want from a person and ripping someone’s work apart for the sake of doing so. After a few months of being a remote, social media intern, it felt as though everything changed. At first I was so excited and passionate about the projects I’d get to work on. I felt like my bosses were really open to my ideas and that I was valued. A few months later, I no longer enjoyed doing the work I was assigned; I no longer felt like it was making an impact. Very few of the tasks seemed even slightly related to my job description. In addition, my work was nitpicked relentlessly. It felt as though my work was never good enough and wouldn’t be. I remember my boss talking negatively about other employees; it wouldn’t surprise me if she talked about me as well.
At the beginning of the internship, I was thrilled. I assumed that I would get paid to write. In addition to not feeling valued by my bosses, I wasn’t paid consistently and clear expectations weren’t set until I was applying for other internships for the fall. After telling my boss that I most likely wasn’t going to continue as an intern for the fall, the work became even more tedious and it felt as though I was being punished for seeking out other opportunities. Eventually I quit. My former boss wasn’t happy about it, but I knew that it was the right decision.
A few days later, I felt better about the situation, relieved even. Sure, I was upset the internship didn’t meet my expectations and disappointed that I no longer had a “real” job, but I was okay. There was more time in the day to be creative, enjoy my summer and mentally prepare for the upcoming semester. I wrote more in one day than I had during the entire semester. I watched some Netflix. Hours were spent looking up opportunities for the future and there was light for the first time in months. I could breathe again.
I decided this setback wouldn’t hold me back. An infinite amount of possibilities awaits me. I look forward to senior year and taking creative writing classes to improve my craft and being an editor of two literary magazines. I look forward to submitting my Fulbright application and possibly teaching English and living in Kenya for 9 months. I also look forward to applying to MFA programs, so I could spend the next few years writing and preparing myself to teach writing.
During this next year I will take the GRE, write a lot of cover letters, write and read as much as I can, complete a few more internships, work my ass off and make time for the people who mean the most to me. While I plan on working hard, I also plan on being present and soaking it all in. You only get to be a senior once, or at least that’s what I’m aiming for (although I’m tempted to flunk all of my classes and stay here an extra semester or two).
I don’t know where this next year will take me, but I am incredibly excited for the journey. It is my plan to look uncertainty in the eye and not feel afraid. In other words, I’ve got this. I finally feel at ease with my life choices and proud of myself for not settling. The last three years were more difficult than they should’ve been; this is going to be the year where everything falls into place.
As I write this, I am able to see the silver lining of this situation. This experience revealed a career path that I wasn’t meant to follow. It allowed me to think about how I might lead a team if given the chance to. In the process of working for this company and quitting, I learned how to ask for what I need and want and to advocate for myself even when it made me less likeable. In the long run, it just made sense. It’s okay to ask for what you need. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to take some time off in order to pursue the thing that will make you happy to get out of bed in the morning, the thing that makes you feel utterly alive.
It is my belief that wanting meaningful work doesn’t make you selfish, incapable or lazy. It is better to leave a job than to remain unhappy, unfulfilled and unmotivated. Even though I could have and should have quit in a more professional manner (I will next time), it wasn’t the end of the world. I just had to pick myself up again and choose to keep going.