1. Waking up is hard.
I know that most of us try to avoid 8 a.m. classes if we can, but sometimes they cannot be avoided. As for me I had 9:00 classes everyday this last semester. I was sure that this would prepare me for waking up for work everyday. I. Was. So. Wrong. When I woke up every morning around 7 a.m. I just knew that it was actually four in the morning and my clock was just set wrong, or at least that's how it felt. I literally cannot imagine a life where I have to do this everyday for the rest of my life (or at least 15 years or so until I can make my own hours that start at like noon). But it must be done and I'm told my internal clock will adjust so hopefully that will happen before my internship is over.
2. Coffee is EVERYTHING.
I know as college kids we constantly talk about coffee: how much we need it, how much we drink it, and how much we are addicted to it blah blah blah. Well when you work in an office eight hours a day that need reaches an entirely new level. The first thing I do in the morning is fix a travel mug to drink on the way to work, and I drink all of it on the way to work. Then once I get there I enjoy the nice buzz till about 2:00. Then I feel like I'm ready for round two. Luckily I have a Keurig and k-cups at my disposal (aka gifts from above) and can go crazy with a caffeine-loaded drink at my leisure. Of course I completely avoid the decaf that someone slipped in the office. Why. Just why.
3. Learning to Dress ~Business Casual~
This was a learning curve for sure. The main problem, as most basic sorority girls like myself will have, is a lack of current clothing options. I have two distinct looks: over-sized srat shirt and norts/leggings or dt (downtown) clothes. Neither is a good look for an aspiring professional. So shopping is a necessity (or at least that's what I tell myself to avoid buyers remorse). It calls for stores like Ann Taylor, the Loft, White House Black Market and other places you can find a pencil skirt and blazer that will not break the bank. I also learned that this generally means wearing a lot of black. And although slimming, it also can make me look like I'm trying to be forty and not 21. So whenever possible, find a bright colored blouse or blazer because you are young and can definitely pull it off.
Need I say more? Black pumps are a necessity, but please no Stilettos. A six-inch heel is simply absurd in the work place. Nobody is going to compliment how good your legs look on the way to the break room. Invest in a cute pump with a modest heel, I don't mean a kitten heel because nobody looks good in that, but something you can at least walk around in without feeling like you should be on the runway—instead of in the copy room. And if you cannot handle heels there are always flats…if you are into that sort of thing.
5. Offices are really cold. Like really cold.
I think the official office policy is to keep every area in the entire building about 20 degrees. I'm pretty positive I read that somewhere. I know the reasoning behind keeping the office cooler is so everyone is comfortable and not sweating at their computer. The only issue with that is when you forget to bring layers (like I did all week)… Yesterday my area of the office, which is basically a corner desk in a large room/ storage area, was set to 67 degrees. 67 DEGREES. I am the type of person that is comfortable in 85-degree weather. This was not okay. I forgot the cardinal rule of bringing a sweater (or parka) to the office. In the future I will bring some sort of outerwear or just change the thermostat a few degrees just to get me through the day without blue lips and fingers.
6. The first week is kind of awkward.
So as the intern I am the new kid. This comes with all the traditional awkwardness of meeting a group of established friends, except in a work setting. Sure I have been very warmly welcomed, and everyone has been so helpful and accommodating, but I still feel a little out of place. I did get taken out to lunch my second day and enjoyed getting to know some of my co-workers. The only issue is I am still feeling my way around the social scene. I know this is just a time issue and by the end of next week I will probably be hanging out in the break room with everyone else like I have been here for months rather than a couple of weeks. Until then though I have to go through the soft smiles and timid hellos for a few more days.
7. Emails for dayyyssss.
I am used to the occasional influx of emails from UGA that average higher than usual, but this is nothing compared to internal communication in a business. I probably had my inbox open more than the assignments I was working on, and I worked on a lot of things. The bing of a new email was a constant sound from my computer. This was simultaneously coupled with the sound of my mouse clicking and then me typing a response to the email. It is one of the most efficient and fastest ways for me to communicate to my boss that I am in fact working on the job sent to me at 10:00 in an email by responding by email. I used the attachment option ad nausea and fashioned a signature that can be automatically added for convenience. I just have to remember to listen for the bing that will rule my life this summer.
8. Names are hard.
I usually pride myself on being really good at remembering a name and face. I consider it one of my talents. My talent was tested this week. On my first day of work I was given a tour and also was introduced to every person in the building. It is a smaller office so luckily I did not meet a crazy amount of people. That being said, the introductions were low-key and quick while my sense of nervousness was high-strung. I said hi with a big smile to every person, but as soon as I walked out the door I could not tell you the first letter of that individuals name. By now at the end of the week I am starting to be able to place people, but it will be a few more days till I can confidently walk up to someone and say “Hi insert correct name here." Until then I will stick with the non-committal smile.
9. Every job has a tedious and slightly pointless training session.
Now don't get me wrong, some jobs require extensive training that is crucial for the safety of both yourself and coworkers and clients. However, most jobs do not require that intense knowledge. I am working for a non-profit foundation* that benefits charities and fundraisers. It is connected to a healthcare system so enter the learning modules. I spent my first day completing ten modules over everything from hospital codes to blood pathogens. Interesting knowledge to have, but all in all I will not use any of it in my current position. I wish I could say it only took be a couple hours, but sadly it was about six hours of squinting at a computer screen learning about the benefits of latex gloves. I understand the importance of these modules and their necessity, but that doesn't stop it from being boring.
10. You learn your true passion.
I have completed my first week in my internship and my main takeaway is not the painful necessity of heels or how wonderful coffee can be; I realized that in order to be excited and happy about going to work everyday you need to have passion. I am passionate about the work I am doing in the non-profit PR world. I am proud to be able to help benefit worthy causes like researching childhood cancer and ALS. I see the passion in the employees that do this everyday and have been working for years. Without that joy it's a fast track to being burnt out. I am excited to go into work each day this summer and learn how I, a lowly intern, can be a small part of an organization that makes a HUGE difference. And as cliché as it sounds, Marc Anthony was right: If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life.
* The name of the organization I am working with this summer is not mentioned in this article for privacy sake.