At the beginning of the summer, I was ecstatic to have two part-time internships at established companies. I felt like I would be the next Andrea Sachs. I loved thinking about decorating my desk, strutting into the office with a Starbucks in hand and getting those biweekly direct deposits.
Four weeks later, and I'm looking forward to the end of my internships, because I'll have time to be a nineteen year old college student during the summer--free of a forty-hour work week commitment. With that said, I'm grateful for the experience. I've learned a lot, made mistakes and discovered some aspects of what I do and don't want as a career.
If you're interning this summer, you can probably relate to these five things I determined from working in corporate:
It's not as glamorous as it appears on television.
Movies and TV shows have the tendency of making the office environment seem very appealing and enticing with hot men and women, classy outfits and exciting drama. However, I've quickly realized that this image distorts reality (like many things on screens do these days). Eight hour days are not my definition of "fun". Unpaid 30-minute lunches are a high luxury. Most days, I'd rather be rocking my classic college look. And no, I've never heard of any steamy office hook ups.
It really is all about money.
I never understood how important money is to people and companies until I worked a job in corporate. Numbers are super valuable, and I'm not talking about the low ones in my bank account. Revenue, profit, debt, etc. are what's on people's minds constantly in corporate. Nearly every decision made in any company happens with money at the center of attention. It doesn't seem right, but I suppose that's just how it is for businesses to thrive and people to make a living. I don't think anyone has the power to change that.
You can't escape the hierarchy or cliques.
You may have tricked yourself into thinking that middle school, high school and even college cliques would magically disappear post-college graduation. I hate to break the news that they won't. In corporate, I've concluded that most workers in each department stick to themselves; there's not a lot of integration among company workers on the whole. Plus, the sense of hierarchy is palpable in the office. People talk to higher-ups differently than they do to those below them or equal to them. Someone from senior management who treats people working under them with respect is one of the best things you can find in a working professional. I wish we could find them more frequently.
Interns don't have much say.
I agree that you get out of it what you put into it when it comes to internships, but I also think that corporate companies over all don't care too much about what interns have to say. They say they want fresh voices and innovation, yet simultaneously don't want to change their ways or take risks. It's been rewarding seeing some of my ideas implemented, but, at the same time, it's also disappointing, because I want to contribute more and feel like I'm incapable of that.
There's no rush.
Working in corporate gives me a smack in the face as to this is what I will most likely be doing for 40 years plus after college. That terrifies me. We're in a world that tells kids to not grow up too fast, but to also do things to prepare them for the "real world". I honestly think squeezing lemonade and waiting tables prepped me almost as much as working in corporate has. I may take a break from it next summer and do something more fun and exciting, for there will be countless office days in the further future. Enjoy being a student while you can!
Everyone's different. You may discover you love working in corporate and that it's your dream. You may find a company that treats their employees very well. As for me, I'm starting to brainstorm freelance opportunities and earning money through genuine passions of mine that don't involve a stuffy corporate environment.