5 lessons from My Summer Internship

 | July 30,2012 02:04 pm IST

The Oxford Dictionary defines an intern as a student or trainee who works, sometimes without pay, in order to gain work experience or satisfy requirements for a qualification.

My definition of an intern would be a person who remains in an organisation for a stipulated period of time, regardless of work, largely with a feeling of being unwanted and sometimes suffering long bouts of depression.


Before I continue, I want to convey to everybody that any resemblance to any events and characters in this article is purely fictitious (no news about a PPO yet). I remember somebody telling me internship is not about what you do in a company, it is about how many people get to know you by the end of it..it is all about Networking. Then there were seniors who shared super awesome stories of how they had no work at all during their internship, how they would catch up on movies in the evenings, how they did something on their own and yet got appreciated by the company etc. And then there were stories of how some of them slogged during their projects and worked extremely hard.

I took all these stories with me on the first day of my internship, anxious as to what was going to happen. We had spent half a day on the joining formalities and post lunch I went in to meet my mentor. So it was almost a quarter of a day when I met my mentor and he spoke to me about my project. I will never forget that moment. My project topic was so alien and unexpected, that I remembered the famous scene from the movie Home Alone where the protagonist screams his lungs out. Sadly I did not have the freedom to do that. He spoke for some 5 minutes, or 10, I did not realise. And after that he just smiled and told me to look around for the rest of the day. It was 2 hours before the day got over and I was thinking what in the name of God will I do for TWO hours.

Lesson 1 Learn the art of spending time doing nothing


The second day my mentor took me to introduce his boss. And I remember the super boss saying something like this, You are here to learn, so keep your objective as learning. In the bargain if you provide us with something, then it is just an add on. So choose your project wisely and enjoy working. This was the direct meaning but he even conveyed something indirectly and it went something like, We are giving you our time and resources, you better deliver, or else.

Lesson 2 Learn to understand the direct as well as indirect messages.


For the next week I had to go to all the departments and talk to people to understand a particular process. That meant meeting and talking to atleast two new people every day. What a roller coaster ride that proved to be. Some super amazing people who were always ready to help, but them some really high headed characters. It was in this period that I felt the outsider in the organisation.

Lesson 3 There are all type of people, learn to deal with all of em.


I was blessed with a mentor straight from heaven so was having a peaceful time working and adhering to rule 1, until that day when he told me there was going to be a project review in the next 10 minutes. What, I am not even prepared, I did not even know about it, its unfair but all I said was sure. And my oh my, what a review it was. Memorable.
Lesson 4 sometimes you just cant get anything what is going on, but learn to act as if you do


The pressure was really on after that review. There were days when I really slogged the whole time in the office and then came home and read up certain things for my next days preparations. It was fun and at the same time challenging. I bonded with my team during this time. Again I was extremely lucky to have an excellent team and the people were warm and helpful. All this helped me in preparing for a presentation that was to be attended by some important people. Not only did the presentation go well, but I also got a chance to meet a lot of people.
Lesson 5 -Just do your work well, you will be noticed and networking will not be required.


And after this super busy schedule I realised that I had already finished my project. But there was a slight problem; I still had 3 weeks to go before my internship ended. Its a different thing that I voluntarily took up a project, but this was the best period of my internship. All the people who have experienced the feeling of being on a notice period in an organisation will understand. It means you can be in the company but yet are not answerable to anybody.

Unexpectedly the last day was difficult. Leaving the people and the company was an emotional moment. Overall the experience was very good 2 months, learnt some lessons for life, did a good project, earned some cash..but most importantly, made some amazing friendsNot a bad deal all