There’s a moment I’ve experienced a few times that I think some people will never see in their entire life. It’s the moment when you realize that what you’re doing in the current moment makes you incredibly happy. You feel fulfilled and challenged and capable all at the same time. It’s invigorating, yet peaceful. The work you do is finally meaningful.
Perhaps the first time I felt this was during a ballet class. When I was straining muscles I didn’t even know I had, I found myself absorbed in the present moment. Nothing I had to do was worrying me, and there was nothing else I would rather be doing. It was an experience that has shaped my mental and physical health and brought me to a better quality of life.
I experienced this again today when I excitedly messaged my mother and said “Look, I’m making promotional plans and writing ad copy and being given actual work! I get tasks on Asana every day, and it really feels like what I’m doing is important.” I sat back for a moment after sending this and smiled. During the first phase of my current internship, I felt lost and confused on what I should be doing to help. None of my efforts seemed to be amounting to such. As soon as I started taking my work into my own hands and connecting with the right people, my role began to form.
“Community catalyst” is what my supervisor refers to me as. I like it, it’s simple, and it’s a title. I’ve been craving something more than “intern” for a while now. Although I could settle for something simple and easily defined such as intern, I knew it didn’t amount to much on paper. Community Catalyst outlined what I did and gave some importance to it. My supervisor is finally getting value out of the work I am providing them. I’m much more inclined to do my job and check in with my co-workers.
There is an incredible value to feeling useful. When I felt as though my work was unimportant, I rarely checked in, rarely completed it, and rarely enjoyed doing it. I would say I feel the complete opposite towards the work I’m doing now, simply because it seems more important.
Interns, although lacking in experience, have a lot of passion. They know that the future will require a lot more than a college degree. They’re ready to gain skills that will get them to where they want to be. Giving them tasks that don’t suit their abilities or interests will just end in burnout.
Instead, internships should be a collaborative process between the worker and the supervisor. There should be periodic check-ins about how the work is going, what the person is enjoying most, and if they’d like to try anything new. Once my supervisor implemented some of these strategies, I felt as though my frustrations or successes were pieces of information they were interested in. It became a team effort to cultivate skills I desired.