Earlier in the summer, I wrote a blog post on culture shock. In the post, I discussed just how hard it had hit me in the weirdest ways, but especially in the workplace. That’s why looking back on the past eight weeks, I realized just how many obstacles I had to overcome.
I feel the biggest obstacle I faced this summer was convincing my supervisor that I was capable of more work. To be fairly honest, the most frustrating thing was sitting at reception feeling useless as I answered phone calls and let people into the building. Ultimately I learned just how important my role was and began to love my experience about half way through. However, for the first few weeks, I felt like an extra set of hands, not as a student who was there to learn.
Everyday I would constantly ask for training and work, however, this didn’t seem to be the right thing for my supervisor to trust me with more responsibility. I am unsure the true reason why it took so long to move forward in my learning but looking back on the summer I realized that I learned a lot more than previously thought. For instance, working the drop-in area did not simply mean being the receptionist, but being the first face clients see when they walk in the door. Some of these people are absolutely terrified and have no idea what to expect, so having someone like myself treat them with a smile and like a normal human made a big impact.
The second major obstacle I struggled with was my age. Even though it shouldn’t be a big issue, some of the clients had been in the service for years and having a young adult in charge can seem belittling. For instance, when I was preparing my first group, my team manager came up to me and warned me that I may have a client challenge me on the material provided. She coached me on how to handle a situation because if the client takes the upper hand, then the rest of the clients may question my credibility. I overcame this obstacle of a possible age issue by not informing anyone of my age, but also trying to be as respectful as possible. I found that if I held myself with confidence, the clients didn’t question my age.
I faced many obstacles this summer but I also learned a lot. I learned how to persevere through quiet times, how to ask for more work, how to create an environment of respect, as well as multiple people skills. At the end, the obstacles are what pushed me to make the most of my experience. If my internship was easy with no bumps in the road, then I wouldn’t have tried as hard as I did. I am thankful for having the experience I did and am glad with the things I took away from the internship.