10 Things I Learned During The First Week Of My Internship

This week, I began an 8-week internship as a Communications Intern with the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists in Alexandria, Virginia. Over the first four days (I work Monday through Thursday), I have already learned SO much about working in a professional setting, the world of Pharmacy, and the skills necessary to succeed in a communications-centric position. Here are ten things I learned in my first week at ASCP.

1. Communications skills.

The major point to an internship is to learn new skills and gain experience in the industry you want to work in after college. As a communications major, you spend so much time writing papers, reading, and learning about the different theories of communications in various forms. But actually taking on a job in communications immerses you and forces you to put your basic knowledge to quick use. Editing documents with a fine-tooth comb quickly but efficiently, simplifying and updating outdated technical works, compiling stories for an e-newsletter, scheduling blog posts, drafting emails - all of these tasks require clean writing skills and some amount of technical knowledge that I had not yet been required to show. And because I get useful feedback on my work from my boss and other coworkers, it really helps me adapt and learn on the fly. With so many responsibilities in my first week alone, you would guess that I was rattled, but I felt that I thrived. It was all such interesting work that I enjoyed, and it didn't even feel like work. That's the path we all want to be on, right? Well, I'm on it, and I'm already improving my skills drastically by putting them to practice.

2. Computer skills.

I've sent and received more emails in the last four days then I have in the last semester at college. While this is something I'm familiar with, Excel, for example, was not. I work often in Microsoft Word at the office, and I'm already becoming more proficient at creating more appealing and concise documents. I've not had much experience with Excel, but I decided to try it out for making a blogging schedule. Do you know how much Excel can do? It's absolutely magical with all of the formulas it can craft.

3. Business casual.

The day before I started, I asked my boss what the dress code would be like. She responded simply: "Business casual is fine." So, I go in wearing a button-up and tie, nice dress pants and dress shoes. But the other guys in the office were wearing un-tucked polo shirts, khakis, and boat shoes. My coworker Alex even wore jeans this week (sorry for exposing you Alex). Let's just say I switched to the much more breathable, short-sleeved polo shirts for my next few days. The commute on the Metro can be pretty warm. And the office can be pretty relaxed.

4. Business people are people, too.

It was not five minutes into my first day before I had already realized how blessed I was with having a bomb.com boss in Christine. All of the people that work at ASCP are gems, and they have been nothing but kind and patient with me. Working with them has also helped me realize that they are nothing like the robots I expected to be manning (ironic verb choice?) the cubicles. They joke, they make mistakes, they even curse once in a while (and then apologize to me for it... I'm an adult, Christine, it's okay! New York doesn't leave a girl easily!), but they get work done, and they do it well. We even had a barbecue lunch on the deck of the fourth floor this week - how cool is my job?

5. Internships aren't always how people say, but some things remain true.

Many people I know have complained that interns get the short end of the stick when it comes to getting due credit for their work and doing annoying jobs nobody wants to do. All I have to say about those claims is... yes, that is correct some of the time.

6. Commuting is a love/hate relationship.

To get to and from my internship, I take the DC Metrorail from New Carrollton Station to the King Street/Old Town Station every morning and afternoon. This is a 45-minute train ride, and it costs about six dollars one way. The love: It gives me a ton of time in the morning to sit back, listen to music, check email, and wake up before I get to work. It really helps cut down on any grogginess I may have had still getting into the office if there was less time in between waking up and arrival. It's a pleasant ride, overall, and the Metro is never really crowded like, say, the New York subway. The hate: It costs around $12 every day and spending money is not fun. It means being around large groups of people early in the morning, but this usually doesn't really phase me once I have my headphones in and Chance the Rapper motivating me towards the finish line.

7. Location is important.

My internship is in the gorgeous town of Alexandria, Virginia. I've been getting rides to the metro very early, and I don't start work until 10 in the morning (again, how lucky am I?), so I have had some time to wander around. The entire area is beautifully built of brick buildings and modern offices, trendy shops, and pricey but high quality restaurants (see #8 for more). There's plenty of green to be found, and it is just overall such a fun place to work in.

8. Eating out at lunch is going to be a hard habit to break away from.

With all of the amazing spots to grab a bite in the proximity of the office, I've already hopped aboard the let's-eat-out-everyday train. While I know that would basically eliminate the point of making money from working, I can't help myself when there's a place that serves special egg rolls, boardwalk fries, and homemade cole slaw! It's called Meggrolls, and was originally a food truck, seriously check them out. And that buffalo chicken egg roll is way more appealing than the frozen meal I have sitting in the freezer from home.

9. Man-buns are still in.

My hair is still getting longer and longer, and I usually keep it up while at the office. My first day, I met Alex, who is the Director of Technology, and he has a similar hairstyle. We exchanged a look that said we respected and appreciated each other's presence just because of that little ball of fun sitting on top of our noggins (that was maybe just in my head and he's completely unaware of it, but let's pretend for a second that great buns think alike). Now if only the older guys could get on board... looking at you, Arnie and Frank.

10. I've still got a TON to learn.

I've learned so much, but there's a lot that I find myself facing each new day at my internship where I'm just like "what the heck is going on?" And that is because this is a LEARNING EXPERIENCE. There's some things I've learned and become good at, and a lot that I don't know how to do or understand. But I know that with some effort, some help, and trip to the nearest Whole Foods in between, I will progress.

*Note: If anyone from ASCP is reading this, thank you for giving me this opportunity, and please don't fire me because I talked mentioned that you might swear once in a while or something. I love you all already and can't wait to see what comes next.

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