You stormed the interview, got the internship, and feel like you are over the moon. Congrats! But the feeling of jubilation quickly wears off; the start day comes around and you suddenly feel sick at the thought of being asked to be the photocopying boy/ girl which you thought you had left behind at 17.
Here are four tips to help you survive as an adult intern who is amidst a career transition.
1. Deal with feeling like an idiot
You are going to feel an idiot and maybe even a frustrated idiot about being the oldest intern around. The first thing you need to recognize is that this is unavoidable. Acknowledge this fact, reassure yourself that even though it’s not brilliant, you will cope, and then put it to the side. Get over it and get stuck in to the opportunity in front of you. The key is to stay in the present moment…with one eye looking towards the future and the reason WHY you took the internship.
2. Don’t try too hard
When you are in the office, you need to find a way of fitting in as an adult intern. This is a funny role because you are not just the green young kid out of school who knows nothing, it’s just that you know little about this particular area of work. Give others the benefit of the doubt, as they will likely not know what to make of you. The best way to handle this is not to try too hard. Make yourself quietly approachable, and when people do engage you, be warm and welcoming, but not overeager in your responses. If the other interns are younger, don’t try to be part of every conversation, especially if you don’t have a clue what they are talking about. If the conversation is about Justin Bieber and forming a flash mob, and the only thing on your mind is getting the minivan repaired, keep quiet and just smile a lot. As soon as you show your age is not an awkward subject, by commenting on it yourself and being humorous about it, people around you will be more at ease.
3. Socialize in moderation
Similarly, when it comes to socializing as a team, definitely do it, but in the way you would do it outside of work. For example if you are a dinner man/women – or a few pints in the pub – but haven’t been clubbing since Cindy Lauper topped the charts, go for the bit you are comfortable with and then go home. People will take their lead from you, and if you are confident and happy to be involved in part of the evening, they will also respect those actions and stop worrying about whether to invite you or not. Again, when you feel easy and comfortable, the people around you will and that can only reflect well on you.
4. Be confident and if you don’t feel it, fake it
Finally, remember your worth. Be confident in what you can do and be confident in your ability to learn. You don’t need to boast, but if someone asked you to do something, just say ‘yes’ as if it was the easiest thing in the world. If anyone is patronizing, or you feel they are, smile, respond positively and confidently don‘t let them on to how you are really feeling.
So what are you waiting for, you next career awaits! Consider becoming an adult intern and get that career transition underway.
Read Part I.