Diary of an Intern, Episode 7: Finding Two Mentors

10/7/14, 4:00PM

“A little busy bee?” What did Gary really mean? Why would he call me that? Even Google doesn’t have an explanation of that phrase. Ahhhh… Why is it so annoying? I kept thinking and thinking and I didn’t realize that I was walking towards the glass door. “Ouch! My head!” Seriously? I literally bumped into a glass door. I looked around and people were laughing out loud. Great, now I would probably become the superstar of the company who hit the door with my head. I hope nobody took a picture and shared it on our company’s social media page.

I couldn’t stay for one more second and wanted to run away. However, a familiar voice from behind prevented me. Who was that? I turned around and saw Ricardo, a director that I met from our last social event. HE remembered ME? Now it’s even more embarrassing because he probably saw me hitting the door with my “brilliant” head.

I stopped for a second and he was already in front of me, laughing. I was right. He saw it. My life is over. I swallowed those embarrassments and pretended that nothing had happened. I said hi to him and we started chatting while walking to our offices. Obviously, he saw that I had something in mind and asked me what was bothering me. I began to hesitate in answering because I was scared that this was going to ruin my career. However, he seemed to be a person that I could trust. “Ok, maybe I could give it a try and see if he could help me.” I told Ricardo that I was helping another department and what happened between me and Gary. Surprisingly, he was not surprised about what was going on. More surprisingly, he was a very close friend of Gary’s. He told me that Gary called everyone “a busy bee.” More importantly, he said Gary is a super nice person, but his facial expressions can sometimes be misinterpreted. He even suggested that the three of us go to lunch together, but in order to make the company pay for the expense, it had to be a mentor-mentee lunch. That was exactly what I wanted. I needed one, no, two mentors to guide me through my internship. Immediately, I asked if he could be my mentor. “Deal!” He said. Haha, I felt so relieved. Great! Now, I have two mentors.

In the following two weeks, I asked Ricardo and Gary a lot of burning questions and they gave me the most valuable suggestions I had ever received. I performed even better in my job and continued building great relationships with the team. However, terrible things also happened to me every now and then for some reason. I went to meet a client contact to gather some information about our current project but he refused to do anything. He seemed super mean and uncooperative. We only spent five minutes talking and he had to run to another meeting. I sent him multiple emails to follow up but he didn’t reply at all. What’s worse was that Ricardo was on vacation and Gary was out of office for a business trip. What should I do? How should I communicate with this client contact outside of our office? Should I tell my manager about this? What would my manager think about me not being able to gather the information that I need?


Diary of an Intern, Episode 6: Internal Conflicts

4/7/14 4:00PM

After much careful thought and already checking in with my own team members, I decided to check in with my supervisor to see if there is any way I could help out and be more productive. Not only to resolve my boredom, but also to help me establish an identity as a diligent employee in the eyes of this company. I want to make a great impression because, who knows, it might lead to a job or reference in the future.

 My supervisor was glad to see that I was being proactive and seeking out ways to help. I mentioned hearing that Stephanie and Mary’s team was swamped and asked if it would be prudent at all for me to get involved. Well, my supervisor was intrigued and suggested that I help out with less technically intensive tasks so that their team can meet their project’s rapidly approaching deadline. Thankfully, we are under the same wing of the company, so in this case offering help paid off.

Stephanie and Mary introduced themselves to me, and I tried to keep calm even though I still felt awkward having eavesdropped on them just the other day. I also met an intern on their team, Gary. He gave me a very firm handshake and seemed friendly enough.

For the next couple days, I found myself tearing through some spreadsheet data entry and felt happy as could be – finally, I was doing something useful! This calls for a celebration – coffee! I was so excited to finish the file I started yesterday that I didn’t even go for my morning coffee, and when I did, I bumped into Gary.

“So, you’re just a little busy bee aren’t you? I was going to get around to those spreadsheets,” said Gary, as he walked away with his cup of coffee – no cream, no sugar, pure black.

What is with his tone? Is something bothering him? I wondered. But I carried on, happily and diligently going through the list of spreadsheets. Yet every so often I would look up to see Gary walk by with furrowed brows, avoiding eye contact.

It felt unwelcoming. Am I intruding on his territory or annoying him by taking on these tasks? What should I do now?

Diary of an Intern, Episode 5: Making the Most of My Internship

The holiday party ended up being a great time. It was an exciting opportunity to develop stronger relationships with my supervisor and others from my team—I even got to speak to a few of the executives! After seeing everyone with a drink in hand, and since I am 21, I concluded that a drink would be acceptable in this situation, but of course, I limited myself to only one drink.  Now that all the holiday fun was over, it was back to work again. I am putting the finishing touches on my presentation and I am pleased with another job well done on my project. But then, I glance over at the time. ONLY noon?! What am I going to do for the rest of the day? I desperately check my inbox to see if my boss has sent over any new tasks. No new messages. I awkwardly fidget around in my seat trying to look busy. I open a new tab in my browser to see if there’s anything interesting on Facebook. I post up a new status, “It’s going to be another loooong day at work again L” All this week, I have been finishing my projects very early and spending the rest of the day trying hard to look busy. Usually I’m too busy, who would have thought I’d complain about not having enough to do? The hours seem endless—I’ve been taking longer lunch breaks and counting the minutes until I have to leave. My boss has been busier than usual, on business trips, and out of the office working on closing a huge deal. He left me with a few projects, but nothing substantial. Since I know this is such a hectic time for him, I don’t want to bother him by asking for work and pestering him with emails. Unless…should I?

I overhear Stephanie and Mary from the other team within our department talking about all the extra work they have. They seem to have their hands full, especially since they just let someone go. I don’t have any projects to do right now and I’m itching to do some work. Should I let them know I’m available to help? Am I even allowed to do that? They’re not my direct supervisors. What would my boss think? I’m not their intern, and maybe I’d be overstepping my boundaries? Or maybe they’ll think it’s weird that I overheard them. I know I can help them, and I’d love a chance to prove myself and learn more about what their team does.

I can’t possibly sit here another day just fiddling my thumbs and pointlessly wasting time on the internet. I took this internship to get valuable work experience. I want to be as beneficial to this company and the department as possible and show how hardworking I can be. But I’m not using my time efficiently by sitting here. It’s time to get proactive;  how can I make the most out of my internship?

Diary of an Intern, Episode 4: A New Hope

12/12/13 3:00PM

Last week we had our last general meeting of the year – ending 2013 on a high note with a lovely lunch and good news across the board. I may be only a humble intern, but the staff here really treats me like part of the company family. As we wrapped up the year’s remaining business, I built up the courage to suggest we try using mail merge to more easily communicate with our clients. It took only a few seconds for my colleagues to respond, but I was petrified with anxiety; could an intern really be so bold as to suggest such a change? To my surprise, they actually liked the idea and commended me for suggesting it. That was a relief and felt quite empowering.

Just as the general meeting began to wind down, my supervisor invited us all to a company holiday party – a chance for all levels of staff to mingle and unwind over fine dinner and wine. Sharing alcohol with my supervisor? That practically sounds taboo, I thought. Plus, I would have to be mindful of what to say and how to behave so I don’t make a fool of myself in front of my colleagues.  Would I need a suit? How late should I stay? How would I handle personal questions thrown my way? These questions ran through my mind and caused no small amount of anxiety. Still, it is a unique experience to look forward to.

I am very excited for the holiday party and hope that everyone enjoys the holidays and has a great new year.