That Summer Intern Life

The fourth Friday of August signalled the end of my internship at a not-so-local agency, which pretty much meant that just as the temperature is beginning to cool down, my summer plans are about to heat up.

Now, I only say ‘not-so-local’ because this agency I worked for was only a few towns away, specifically a 30-minute drive if I own a car if ever learned how to drive – but that’s a whole can of worms altogether. I relied 100% on public transportation (thanks to the UK for having a comprehensive public transportation system that extends beyond the capital city!), made my own packed lunches, and got the chance to dress like the Sixth Former I could have been if only I had the budget, confidence, and wherewithal to pull off business casual outfits.

I completely regret not documenting my #OOTD these past three months.

What’s it like to be an intern?

Let’s start with the basics…

  1. Why did I choose to do an internship?
  2. How did I get the internship?
  3. What were my days like?

First up – I chose to do an internship for the same reasons most undergraduates (or fresh out of the lecture hall graduate, like myself) choose to do an internship. I wanted to gain experience outside of teaching or community outreach, which I somehow managed to accumulate billions of experience in already. In another life, perhaps I could have been a teacher. But guys, just watch me try to fight that destiny in this particular lifetime: I scored myself an internship in an agency, got myself two pairs of cute brogues to mark the occasion, and drank my Starbucks to-go every morning like a modern-day working woman.

Question number two my university has this scheme that promotes extra-curricular activities to its current students, where they assign points to each type of activity. Attending a careers fair, for example, would be worth 5 points. Part-time work held for longer than 3 months would be 30 points, and completing a course outside of your core curriculum would be worth 60 points. As these points add up, you can exchange them for work experience and internship interviews, and I was fortunate enough to jump through all the hoops and come out with a summer internship.

Most undergraduate students, I’m assuming, would choose to do a summer internship between their first and last year of study. NOT ME, THOUGH. I chose to cash in my points at the end of my final year, which put a little bit of a downer on my fresh-out-of-uni celebrations because I felt like I jumped from my graduation ceremony straight into the world of full-time employment with no summer break in between. I felt robbed, and also very stupidly spoiled because who has problems like these?

Thirdly – my days started off early. Wake up at 5:45 and out of the house by 6:55, dressed and belly happy from a freshly made breakfast. Towards the later weeks, however, I know I slept in a bit more and grabbed a breakfast at Starbucks rather than making one at home, which angered my wallet by a lot. Still, what’s done is done.

I take the 7:04 bus from where I live to where I work; for the first four weeks, this bus route doubled as the morning school run. It was as hellish as it sounds. Imagine children from three different grammar schools (plus myself!) all piled up like sardines inside a double-decker bus… you could imagine the conversations I overheard. I just want to quote Abba and say, thank you for the music, otherwise, I wouldn’t know how I would have survived.

a .gif of Spongenbob wearing headphones and snapping his fingers
Spongebob is listening to Abba, I swear

I arrive at the town where I work at exactly 8:10 if there weren’t any delays. I then grab my morning Starbucks, scan my gold member app, and then proceed to walk to the office at around 8:35. My normal walking speed gets me to the office front door about 8:55, but if I am in a rush or angry-therefore-I-power-walked, I would arrive five or ten minutes earlier.

This might all sound neurotic to most people, but keeping to a schedule pretty much saved my soul this summer. What I realised about myself, during this entire internship experience, is that I really value having complete control of my time. As an intern, you don’t really have control over what you do between clocking in at work and clocking out – at least not at the agency I worked for.

I had to spend the majority of my days – my weeks, even – with total strangers who very clearly did not share the same life experiences as myself, and therefore did not have the same values. They tagged it as a generational thing: “you’re such a millennial” was a phrase bandied about lightheartedly in the office. But it was so much more than the years between me and my colleagues…

  • I value smart work over hard work
  • Naps are not just for young children: inemuri is a lifestyle I live by
  • NOT ALL ASIAN CULTURES ARE THE SAME
  • Being gay is not a punchline to some joke and it should never be used as one

So these past three months have been a hardship, to say the least. I came into the internship hoping to gain work experience applicable to most graduate jobs I plan to apply for, and I came out battered and worn with a significant amount of money spent on food deliveries to the office… oops!

I still gained valuable work experience and a lot more doors are open to me now compared to if I never took that internship offer; nevertheless, I know that I have become less idealistic for my work-future, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some might say I needed this crash course in real life.

Adulting™ is hard, y’all.


Over to you guys: Do you have any internship adventures to lament over? Are you currently a student planning to take one? Am I being too whiny over the whole ‘millennial’ label that people my age can’t seem to shake?

I am going to Belfast next week to celebrate completing my summer internship, so keep an eye out for my first travel journal blog post!