Internships & Attitude

Written by Tory FieldsIMG_1909-Cropped

Starting a new job always makes me nervous. Being a person that doesn’t enjoy change, I find starting at a new company to be unsettling. I like to have all the information up front – expectations, work environment, projects, etc. However, starting a new job, especially a new internship, means that many things are out of my control. I can’t decide what my new boss’s management style will be like, how the dress code works, or what kind of programming language I will be working with. It’s a scary thought to face so many unknown variables at one time. That’s why when I began my new internship three weeks ago, I felt overwhelmed.

Within a week, I discovered there is one very powerful thing in my control: my attitude. I learned that when I come into the office with a smile on my face, the people around me smile back. When I get a new project that involves concepts with which I am not familiar, I get to be excited about the opportunity to learn something new. I can initiate lunches and other social activities with the other interns and have a great time, or I can find a nice quiet spot by myself for lunch and enjoy a few minutes alone with a good book. I work with my manager when I have a different idea than he does, not against him. Realizing I was in control of myself and my reactions to the new experiences at this new company changed every aspect of my work. With a combination of confidence and respect, I can feel bonds growing with my coworkers.

Companies want free-thinkers and young people who take initiative. Our generation has been stereotyped as being entitled, lazy, and indifferent. Nobody wants to walk a new intern step-by-step through every project. They want interns who make connections on their own, ask insightful questions, and do their work without having to be asked. Attitude plays an important role in accomplishing these tasks. When I start a new job, I tend to second-guess my decisions. Different companies have different ways of doing things, and I don’t want to assume I know what’s best. At the same time, so many of my questions within the first couple of weeks of work were something I could answer myself. I would search through documents to find the right information I needed for a project. I would scour old spreadsheets to decide what format would be best for my new spreadsheet. I didn’t ask a question until I had already tried to find the answer myself. This immediately created a good dynamic between my manager and me. He knew he didn’t have to check in on me all the time and that I would find him when I needed something. I have already learned quite a bit and I hope I continue to improve. I never want to take my position for granted, or forget that my employment is currently a temporary deal. I will strive to improve and learn, knowing my attitude is the best weapon in my personal arsenal.