As a 21-year-old marketing student, I could count the number of times people have told me to “take any work you can get” on every single hand that exists in this entire *world* and I STILL wouldn’t have enough hands.
According to older generations, us students should be taking *any* job we’re offered.
*Take* the job where you spend all day delivering coffees and photocopies to rude, unappreciative employees’ desks, where a “thank you” is as unlikely as a toddler eating a bowl of spaghetti and not making a mess.
*Take* the job where you work 12-hour unpaid weekdays, multiple days a week.
*Take* the job where under NO circumstances are you allowed to take a 20-minute lunch break because THERE IS TOO MUCH WORK FOR ANY BREAKS WHATSOEVER. Need the toilet? Hold it in till you’re on that side of the building. No time to be wasted.
Sure, I’ve done my fair share of less-than-ideal *internship* work. I’ve done the coffee deliveries, the printer cartridge replacements. I’ve worked tirelessly to plan big events and have never been thanked or acknowledged for organising them. I’ve been publicly embarrassed and blamed for mistakes I had nothing to do with. I’ve been placed in departments riddled with bullying and misogyny. I’ve had days and weeks where I’ve cried in the bathroom or at my desk, only to have my manager look me in the eye, barely bat an eyelid, and turn back to his computer screen to update his footy tips for the week.
To me, these things were the definition of an internship – you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do in order to gain ‘important’ *experience*.
I’ve never had a choice but to suck it up and stick it out till my end date.
*Enter* November 2018.
As an avid follower of The Digital Picnic on Instagram and F**kUp Nights on Facebook [if you haven’t heard of them, look them up, they’re GREAT], I came across a Facebook event by F**kUp for November 22nd. Three speakers would be attending the event; one of which was Cherie Clonan.
Yep, you heard me. I literally booked a ticket BECAUSE I knew Cherie would be speaking. Lame? Yes. Regrets? None.
I told my boss I needed to start earlier and finish earlier that day, and he kindly obliged. So I made the trek through peak hour traffic into the city to hear Cherie speak.
I didn’t know much about Cherie’s story, but what I DID know, was that TDP looked pretty *darn* cool on the ‘gram – almost too cool to actually exist. I just wanted to see TDP’s founder #inreallife and better understand if it was *actually* possible to enjoy working in marketing and whether happy workplaces actually existed.
After Cherie’s talk? I couldn’t help myself. I walked straight up and introduced myself [while literally *shaking* because I was SO nervous] and asked if I could please please PLEASE intern at The Digital Picnic. I just NEEDED to experience this place for myself.
4 months later, I’m sitting here at my desk in Footscray and still can’t quite believe I am now a part-time employee at TDP.
Interning at TDP proved the power a workplace and employees/bosses can have on your happiness and motivation [both at work, and at home]. Being surrounded by people who thrive in teaching me new things, who are patient with my *silly* questions, who challenge me to do things I never thought I’d do [such as writing this blog post… writing has never been my #forte].
I no longer pop in once a week for my 6-hour intern day. I work full days on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. And when Wednesday afternoon comes around? I actually get SAD. Why? Because I still have to go through Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday until I get to come back to the wonderful, colourful place that is The Digital Picnic.
To all the other students out there working in internships they dread every day? Know that this is NOT forever. You *don’t* have to hate where you work. You *don’t* have to be treated like you’re worthless and like the projects you complete are pointless and unhelpful.
There ARE *amazing* workplaces that exist. You CAN adore your boss. You CAN feel appreciated and respected. You CAN feel like what you do matters. You CAN complete internships in INCREDIBLE businesses and do work that ACTUALLY counts.
I am extremely lucky to have found a place like TDP and I am *so* grateful for it every single day. But I also know that if I was able to find a place like this to intern for, and then eventually become an employee of, it IS possible for other students to find places like TDP too. Additionally, it’s possible for every other business to offer a culture and environment that supports and nourishes students and interns.
@ Students who aren’t currently enjoying their internships – Disliking your internship does not mean you will always dislike working in that industry – it just means that that business is NOT for you. Please don’t be disheartened just because your internship wasn’t enjoyable. Remember it is only temporary.
@ Business who offer internships – please help us love where we work, please treat us like we matter. We WANT to work hard. We WANT to help you thrive.
@ Cherie & Team TDP – PLEASE can I stay here forever?!