Career · Inspiration · Underemployment

Finding Appreciation in the Little Things as an Unpaid Intern

The following is a guest post from my best friend who interns at an entertainment-related company. 

The life of an intern doesn’t have to be as depressing as TV shows make it look. Working for free for a few months has its set backs, but it can lead to some wonderful experience and opportunities. I’m currently in a transitional phase in my life and am interning at a company I love. As an intern here are some things I have come to appreciate:

These are some strange things I have received at work.
  • Thank-yous – 2 simple words that go a long way.
  • A coffee – As a poor intern, you have no idea how grateful I am when someone buys me a caffeinated drink.
  • Being asked for an opinion – I get excited when I am shown the latest new thing and get asked “what do you think?”. It shows I am trusted enough to give valuable feedback.
  • Invitations to events – I am fortunate enough to work for a company where there are many events to attend. I’m able to go to most of them whenever I wish. At events, you’re representing the company (explicitly stated or not) and there is a certain level of trust your co-workers have in you.
  • Lunch – It’s a rare but wonderful occurrence to be bought lunch. However, I appreciate even being invited out to lunch with the other employees where you are treated like a friend and join in their conversations.
  • Being introduced as an assistant – I’m not really a fan of the word “intern”. It sounds temporary. I have noticed that recently that, I’ve been introduced to clients (some who are very important) as their “assistant”. There’s a level of confidence they have in you when you’re not referred to as “the intern”. Being an intern comes with the preconception that you’re going to make tons of mistakes.
  • Random swag – Whether it is company pens or random odds and ends from clients, free stuff is well, FREE STUFF! My boss gave me some stuff when he was cleaning out some things in his office. A few things were quite hilarious, and I used them to decorate my desk. I received some things that were rare and valuable as well. Sometimes it may be junk that your boss is about to throw out, but if they ask if you want them you’re at least being considered.
  • Challenges – I love when I am constantly challenged with new things. Don’t sigh at a hard task, it means they have faith in you. If after a few months, you are still doing the same mundane tasks, you might want to ask why.

All these things might not happen at all for most interns, but they are things that have made me a very happy intern at the company I work for. It’s important to feel happy and appreciated as an intern if not you might want to ask yourself, “Why am I still interning?”. If you happen to be to be an employer that hires interns, let them know you value their work. You don’t need to do most of  the things I listed, a simple “thank you” is enough to brighten their day and work even harder for you.

Thanks once again for sending this to me. It’s really nice to see how the little things can make interning worthwhile.

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3 thoughts on “Finding Appreciation in the Little Things as an Unpaid Intern

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