How To Channel You Internship Experience Into New Habits
I love New York. I have written more times than I can count about my love affair with the city so nice they named it twice. I remember being a little girl in North Carolina and wishing more than anything that my mother would randomly decide that she’d had enough of the South and move all of us back up to her birthplace. Silly, I know, but isn’t that what most early-2000s kids wanted
New York for me was the epitome of cool. The true melting pot. The center for life. I wanted to be in New York so, so badly. And so when I was looking to complete my theatre degree, the move seemed obvious.
I live in Jersey, right across the water from the city. I can see the skyline sometimes if I’m in the right place at the right time. I live in a commuter town so every morning on my way into my internship in Midtown Manhattan, half of my neighborhood joins me in rocketing towards that skyline on the Midtown Direct.
Internships serve as a way to give you a taste of what could be a potential career path. In my case it was a way to see what my life would look like working in the theatre industry on the more administrative side, instead of just performing. Insightful, indeed.
However, besides making good networking connections, there are definitely ways to take an internship experience beyond the 16-weeks and into your academic and everyday life. Here’s how to do just that.
The Devil’s in the Details: Take Notes
One of the first things my supervisor told me was that I needed to keep a journal. Write everything down. Even if it seemed mundane. In a crazy, distracting city like New York, this was incredibly valuable. It could be something as simple as which direction to get off the subway to walk towards the correct theater, instead of aimlessly strolling five blocks in the wrong direction. It could also be directions on how to open a combination lock, instead of googling it for the millionth time. I’ve never been good at that! Now I’m the queen of combination locks if I do say so myself.
Having a reference point instead of cramming information makes you feel and appear prepared.
Embrace the Workplace Wardrobe
The production company I work for happens to be based in the same midtown high rise as a certain designer shoe brand. Meaning that I get on the elevator with some of Manhattan’s most stylish interns. How do they do it in this heat?! I constantly want to ask.
For me, I work in the arts, so thankfully there is no dress code. I used to be that girl running around the city in stilettos, but that was before I found myself toting 20 souvenir programs from 66th to 38th. This is your invitation to invest in some cute sneakers.
The key is to understand your workplace’s uniform and follow in suit. As an intern, you want to look like you fit in and do work that stands out. Keep that in mind as you kick off any new career chapter.
Stay Fueled and Pack a Snack
I love food. Food is my love language. Sadly, I get busy and when I’m stressed I forget to eat. Running from theatre to theatre in one of the greatest food hubs on the planet, you would think that I would have time to pop in for snack, right? Wrong.
I try to keep myself fueled for the day by packing my backpack with nuts and dried fruit. Pro tip: don’t pack a banana. Nothing is worse than getting on the train after a humid day and realizing that your overripe banana got smashed in the bottom of your bag. Bottom line, always have a snack. You’ll never regret it (unless it’s a banana).
The Golden Rule: Treat Everyone with Kindness
There’s a security guard at one of the shows my company manages and he’s always so incredibly kind to me. That makes a huge difference on those days where the train was late and it’s pouring rain.
It’s a small world. A really, really small world. Wherever you go, whoever you deal with, see people for who they are and be kind to them. Not just because word gets around but because the world is a really scary place sometimes and we need each other.
Stuff Happens, Be Flexible
Sometimes, actually 99.9% percent of the time, things don’t go the way they’re supposed to. That train I just mentioned is a perfect example. I’ve noticed that when I am flexible and workable with others, they are so much more willing to be flexible with you.
No Job Too Small
Internships are rarely glamorous. However, I encourage you to find the little moments. The magic in your internship if you will, and well, in life.
For me, there was something magical about seeing the Empire State Building every morning coming up out of the 8th Ave and Penn Station subway. There was something insanely magical about seeing a Broadway stage lit with only the ghostlight. There was something beyond magical about the time I ran a care package up to the dressing room of a Tony Award winning actor the day before his first show. Little moments that dot my experience in the city like glittering constellations. Find your own.
Internships are the stepping stones to a meaningful career, no matter what city you find yourself calling home. Take advantage of the opportunity but even more importantly, channel what you are learning and the habits you are creating into all that you do. The foundation you set now will have transformative effects on your life moving forward.