‘Is there life after death?’ is a question that keeps some students occupied. But this question is abstract and theoretical. ‘Is there life after graduation?’ is a much more urgent question. Once you exchange your happy-go-lucky student life for a nine-to-five existence at the office, are you even still alive? That is what I am currently trying to find out during my internship. In this fourth episode, being an intern.
In addition to being new at a nine-to-five existence in the open space office, I am also new at being an intern. No, I am not a regular employee; I am an intern.
‘Hey Steven, what activity did you select?’ a colleague asks, and I have no idea what they are referring to. ‘Eh, just working at the office, why?’ I reply. But today, apparently, there is a company outing with a variety of activities for which you could register. The faces that surround me look pained, eyebrows frown. ‘Oops, he was not invited. Awkward’, it dawns upon those around me.
‘Is that all they pay you?’ is another well-intended rhetorical question. And: ‘Sorry that you did not receive the email, Steven. You fell off the mailing list. Good of you to point that out!’
Oops, he was not invited. Awkward’, it dawns upon those around me
You’re an intern, and we will rub your face in it, they must have thought. Still, the aforementioned examples are just drops of cold water from a leaking faucet in an otherwise warm bath. There are some organisational hurdles. However, the people within the organisation are open and welcoming—that more than makes up for a few missed emails. The incidents described above were interrupted by words of comfort such as: ‘Hey, don’t hesitate to ask questions. Always welcome!’. Not knowing and not being “in the loop” also creates a comfortable distance. If I am unaware, it is not my fault. I didn’t get the memo!
Being the underdog is fine. Quite comfortable, actually. When I was writing my thesis, everything, from start to finish, was my responsibility. The same project every day. with the success or failure in large part hinging on me. As an intern, there is a lot less responsibility. You help in ongoing projects but leave within a few months.
I’m fine being the intern for now. Does anyone want more coffee?
Steven (25) is doing a Master’s degree in Economics and Policy and is currently doing an internship at a research institute for economics. He enjoys hitting the squash court and is always up for a game of squash and a good conversation. You can email him here.