Five Lessons Learned
Blog post by ELP student Margeaux Fortin (Economics | Class of 2022) Interning at Mighty.com
This summer has taught me more than I could have imagined or hoped for. The city, my internship, and numerous people I’ve met along the way have made this summer incredibly educational and transformative for me. While I could list off countless lessons and insights in this post, I will rather attempt to summarize my learnings into the five most influential and important lessons this summer has taught me.
This summer has been the complete opposite of my usual/past summers. Leading up to this year, summer has been a time of relaxation, rest and rejuvenation. I usually take the time off to work as a lifeguard or babysitter, to rest my brain completely, and to regroup and prepare for the following school year. This summer, however, I decided to throw myself into a completely new city and new internship experience. I know no-one, I have had to completely provide for and support myself and have been working as an intern at a startup. This summer I have been constantly thinking, learning, and growing both at and outside of work.
Organization is Key
The first thing this summer has taught me is the importance of organization. I now see more clearly that while organizing everything you do may take more time and effort at first it ultimately saves you more time and grief. I have seen the benefits of being organized both in and outside of my internship. On my first day of work, I asked my fellow business intern, who had been there a few weeks before me, for advice on how to thrive and get the most out of the position. She was very helpful, and I tried to absorb everything she said, but my greatest take away from the conversation was that I should be as organized as possible. I took that advice very seriously and created a list of all of the projects I had been assigned, with who assigned them, the due date, my current stage/status of working on it, and a link to the file. I also made sure to organize my google drive folders, which paid off when a small project turned into a company-wide initiative and I had to share my project folder with many employees. So, by taking the extra effort to make sure that every document I make, and that is shared with me, is in its appropriate folder, I have gained the trust and respect of my fellow employees. I have also made it easier to find the needed information for myself and the people I will give my projects off to.
Organization is Key Part 2
The second thing I learned living in the city, as mentioned in the section above, is that being organized outside of work is also highly beneficial. At school, everything in my life is planned out with classes, social life through my sorority, and business/entrepreneurship clubs, so I rarely ever have to organize my own days or plans. This summer, I have gotten a taste of what life after school will be like, and I have seen how beneficial planning out social activities and just life outside of work can be. On the weeks that I was too tired or didn’t have the time to plan activities, I always ended up missing out on fun things happening in the city and regretting my laziness. I now have made it a habit that I stay on top of my social life and try to organize social activities for almost every day after work, and fun larger activities on the weekends. I also enter the Broadway lottery every day and check multiple websites that outline the best things to do in the city that week. Living in New York City has taught me how much I value a social life, cultural events, and generally just exploring and appreciating the place I live in, while also showing me how helpful organizing these activities at the beginning of each week can be.
It’s Ok to Be Alone
Living in New York has also helped me become a lot more comfortable with myself and doing activities alone. I have learned how difficult it can be to sometimes coordinate plans with people, and that unlike at school it is much less likely to be surrounded by your friends all the time in the real world. So, since you can’t organize something for every day and you can’t plan out every meal you eat, it is completely ok to do things alone. Since arriving in the city, I have become a lot more comfortable with going to restaurants, museums and everywhere else by myself. Since realizing this, I have been able to fully enjoy everything I want to without worrying about finding someone to do it with, while also growing to appreciate my own company more. Despite almost always being surrounded by people at school, I am still excited to have this newfound comfort with my own company and to understand this lesson for when I graduate.
Stand Up for Yourself and Don’t Apologize for It
I have always been slightly over apologetic especially with my superiors and in professional settings, in an effort to show respect and ensure that I wasn’t offending anyone. But I now see how much that trait could have been hurting me. Toward the beginning of my internship, my manager asked me why I hadn’t spoken up at all during one particular meeting and if I had anything to add to the conversations. At that moment I snapped and told him how an inefficient process with poor communication had frustrated me and made me feel like I wasted my time. In a call with him, the next day my manager thanked me for the honest feedback and told me to never ever apologize in a business setting and that he wished women weren’t pressured to be so apologetic. Before that conversation, I had seen no downside to apologizing to superiors, but I now see that by doing so I was coming off as not confident in my own opinion and intelligence and that it could have been hurting me succeed and rise within organizations I’m in.
Look For the Positive and Fun in Everything
Both living in New York City and working at a startup have taught me to have a more positive attitude and outlook on life. At work, I can see how much of a difference having a positive, fun, and happy attitude can have on the company culture and attitudes of everyone around you. I originally approached my internship with so much excitement and passion that every task was fun, however as that initial excitement has worn off I have learned how important a positive attitude is for both your own and the companies productivity. I have found that if I look for the positive in every project and that if I talk and joke around with my co-workers it makes me far more efficient. I also think that having a casual working relationship with my co-workers have helped me gain their trust quicker and made working on projects together far more enjoyable. Walking past the homeless shelter next to my apartment on the way to work every day has also helped me see the positive in every task and made me very grateful to have a job and home. Outside of work I have also seen how large of a difference a positive attitude can have. As I mentioned earlier, I am now far more positive about spending time alone and this has helped me explore more of the city. I am also far more positive with everyone I meet, making it easier to have fun with strangers and to make new friends, in a city where close friendships are hard to come by.
Overall my summer in New York and my internship at an open, casual and quickly growing company have shaped me in many ways. I am excited to continue to learn and grow both in my internship and when I return to school. I can’t wait to see how this summer’s lessons can positively affect me moving forward.