Six weeks ago, when I walked in on my first day at Her Agenda I had no idea what to expect. I told myself to breath deeply and learn what I could by taking it one day at a time.
No one tells you how quickly taking it one day at a time can make the weeks pass by. As my time at Her Agenda comes to a close, I am reflecting on how this experience has shaped me. Here are a few things I’ve learned throughout my internship:
1. Time management is a self-imposed skill
Her Agenda was my first internship where there wasn’t someone looking over my shoulder the entire time. While this was initially shocking to me, it eventually helped me understand how to manage my time for myself.
I learned that I should not have to be told to budget my time. Part of having good work ethic was establishing a system of productivity that works for me. I decided to set deadlines for myself by writing a few things I wanted to get done each day. Having that sense of autonomy felt unfamiliar at first, but I was able to get into an effective rhythm by structuring my own routine. In the end I valued having the responsibility of holding myself accountable for the work I had to get done.
2. I am only as good as my network
Shaking someone’s hand and introducing yourself isn’t enough. As I was introduced to other professionals through Her Agenda, I had to work on building connections with them and not just forgettable acquaintanceships.
A lot of times this meant getting out of my comfort zone. For example, I never thought to share anything personal about myself or my interests with other professionals. However, this became a key strategy to make an impression. Even mentioning details about my background or where I saw myself in the next few years could completely change the nature of the conversation I was having. People are a lot more willing to open up or extend a helping hand when they feel like they know a little more about you. When I followed up with emails, I had something to reference.
As an aspiring writer, I learned that how much talent you have doesn’t matter if no one knows who you are. Making myself memorable became important as I realized that the connections that I make now could be a defining factor in where I end up.
3. My fellow interns were one of my most valuable resources
When asked what my weakness was during my interview, I responded, “I don’t play well with others.” My point was that I preferred to work as an individual. Honestly, that’s a reason writing appeals to me. I pictured myself in my own bubble, headphones blasted, silently typing at my keyboard every day. I expected to engage with the other interns sporadically.
But after a few weeks we all became dependent on each other. I found that being a writer isn’t as individualistic as I thought. I didn’t always have answers for myself. I didn’t always have the right phrasing at the top of my head. The other interns were my go-to for questions I had, a second opinion on my editorial, or even for engaging conversations if I needed a break. I never thought I would appreciate being surrounded by people with similar interests and unique talents. The bond that I built with those ladies is one of the takeaways that I cannot place a value on.
4. I was not hired to be perfect
The first time I made a mistake, I couldn’t help but feel so disappointed in myself that I did little else for the rest of the day. But when the period of self-pity passed, I had to accept that I was bound to make more mistakes as the internship carried on – especially considering it was only my first day.
Sure enough, I made plenty of more mistakes as time passed. Rather than wallow in disappointment, I had to learn to be patient with myself and bounce back. Of course, one should always set high expectations for themselves. However, it’s toxic to be so hard on yourself that you can’t see the value in learning from your mistakes. When I was hired at Her Agenda, they knew that I would not be perfect from the beginning. The only person that hadn’t yet accepted that I had a lot to learn was me. The internship, as I came to know, was about growth. Growth takes time.
I stopped seeing asking questions as a sign of incompetence and rather as an indicator that I was willing to improve. In the beginning, I was so caught up in being useful to the company that I forgot Her Agenda was most useful to me in helping me build skills that I didn’t have when I first started.
5. It’s important to evaluate experiences in the long term
As amazing as they were, these six weeks are coming to a swift end. As I think about my next steps, I am looking at my experience at Her Agenda as an indicator of where I see myself heading.
Throughout the internship, I was encouraged to take notice of the aspects I enjoyed about the job as well as the aspects I did not enjoy as much. Naturally, I enjoyed the writing process but discovered that social media was not my forte. However, having experience in both gave me a sense of direction for what I’m looking for in my next internship on top of the lessons that I am taking with me as I depart.