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.

Diary of an Intern, Episode 3: Taking Initiative

11/12/13 4:00PM

This morning was horrible. I was stuck on a project again. But thank god! It was finally lunch time! I needed to take a break, otherwise my brain would not function properly and I would never be able to finish this project. I grabbed a can of diet coke and a bowl of salad then went straight to the cafeteria. As expected, there were not that many people there since everyone seemed to be having lunch in front of their computer. But whatever, I was dying.

I looked around and tried to find the best spot. I scanned the whole room and I saw someone. Someone I know, and he was looking at me too. Oh no, that’s my manager Richard! Obviously, he wanted me to sit with him. Bob, your career is officially over. You are probably the laziest person in Richard’s eyes. I finally sat down with him but surprisingly he didn’t blame me for sneaking out for lunch. Instead we ended up talking about the project that I am working on and I just asked him all the questions I had. He explained the project to me thoroughly and we discussed some issues that were debatable. I was so happy since I could finally finish the project. Also I realized that people want to help you, but they are busy too. You just need to know the timing and be patient. Put down all the questions that you have and ask them at a good time. I am finally getting the hang of this internship!

After lunch, everything seemed to go on the right track. Even though some projects that I had were challenging, I managed to finish them on time with help from other co-workers. I also made some close friends and I enjoy my job more now. I feel like I have more control on my job right now so I really want to do something big. I already have some ideas in mind.  I want to make the process for some projects more efficient. I know that we need to send out a lot of emails to clients but the way that they do it is definitely not efficient. We can use mail merge instead. Who should I talk to? How do I make them listen to an intern? What if they don’t like it? God, why is there always problem in front of me?