I chose to intern at the age of 29, nearing 30. I turned 30 while serving my internship period. A friend of mine asked if I wasn’t feeling weird interning at 30 and I asked him, “Why should I?” Goes back to societal expectations which I stopped having time for.
Ark Africa is a company that I have admired for a while, and the moment I decided that branding is what I would love to specialise in, I knew which door to knock on. I first interacted with the company 7 years ago. They created a brand for my sister’s courier business, and they later became clients of it. I was managing the business then and maintaining good customer relationships is one of my strengths so we kept in touch.
When I made up my mind to pursue my professional desires, I reached out to my contacts at the company. I said, ” I want to become a branding pro and your company is the best in as far as branding is concerned, so you are the guys I would like to learn from.” The founder had no doubt about my love for branding but seeing as I had no real experience in it, he struggled a bit with how I would fit in. I then volunteered, “I do not mind starting as an intern and then pick up the conversation later.” That seemed workable and we agreed on a start date.
How to be a good Intern
I must say that part of me felt like I was going into an exam with a cheat sheet. Why? My job right before the internship was Admin/ HR Assistant, and one of the things I managed was the internship program. Now it was time for me to apply all I used to advise the interns under my wing to do. The most important being,
“As an intern, you are already one foot in; make sure you get the other one in as well; not have both out!”
You do this by doing a few things:
- Become a sponge and learn as much as you possibly can.
- Be friendly with the rest of the staff.
- Suggest things, don’t try to bulldoze your way or act as a Miss know it all, even if you may know a lot more than others.
- Go out of your way to get involved in on-going projects.
- Show interest in what everyone does.
- Add value; immense value.
- Share your ideas, in a respectable manner.
- Grab at opportunities that are thrown your way. Don’t say, “That’s not my expertise.”
- Don’t be shy to ask for help; you’ll be amazed at how open and kind people are.
- Have a blast; create memories and build relationships
Applying my own advice has never been this easy! And I know it’s because I really do enjoy the world of branding and would really love to be a part of this team. Also, I have a personal mission for leaving a person or a place better than I found them. I always look to add value. And I know that no matter how the end of this internship goes, I have left my mark. I did not become like a fly on the wall. I made a statement! And I have learned a lot. My writing specifically has been challenged. I have done a lot of creative writing; professional writing is another ball game but I also realise that different stops in my past prepared me for this major one.
Always go after what you want. Do not allow other people’s opinions make the decisions for you. After all, they really don’t know what your end game is, so why bother? If you are in college or still in college, but on break, look for internship opportunities. They provide you with the ever elusive “experience” that most employers ask for when hiring. Even if it is for free. Remember you are the one gaining most. And no one can ever take that experience from you. You lose absolutely nothing from interning.