For Interns, Confidence is Key!
Confidence is key. … But confidence is also something we all struggle with – especially in a new place doing new things. As interns, we agreed that confidence is one thing that we all had different experiences with, from lack of confidence to being extremely confident.
Here are summaries of our experiences with confidence – or the lack thereof -- during our internships:
Sarina, HR intern
Let me tell you, being the only kid in an office is scary. When I started at KIG in February, I was the only intern and that’s intimidating enough on its own. I will say everyone in the office was nice and welcoming, so that helped some. But picture this: It’s your first couple of days in your new position as an intern and the person in charge of you is leaving. So, I had about two weeks of working under someone with close guidance before I was nearly on my own.
If you couldn’t guess, I freaked out a little bit. I was so unsure of everything and now I wasn’t sure who I could or should ask. Which also led to me not fully knowing what I could or couldn’t do, and like pretty much everyone, I hate asking questions. For a while I was unsure of myself and my role. Luckily some other employees gave me some direction and things to do, but it still didn’t help me feel like I was really that important to the team. It was hard to have much confidence during this time.
Fortunately, most of that changed when the other interns started. I realized a big part of my lack of confidence came from the fact that I was the new person and didn’t know much. So when I no longer became the newest person on the team and finally knew a little more than someone, I felt so much more confident in myself. Over the rest of summer my confidence continued to build, and I can say that, for the most part, I don’t struggle with confidence anymore. Nonetheless, health insurance will always be intimidating, and there will always be more for me to learn here.
I'll say this: Being the new person will undoubtedly impact how you feel, but realize that it's temporary and, eventually, someone newer will come along. And I’m so thankful they did.
Kayleigh, HR intern
Let’s just be honest here: I did not feel confident when graduating from college and transitioning to KIG. I was completely intimidated by the corporate world. I started working in a restaurant when I was 16 (shoutout to Quaker Steak & Lube!) and continued to do so until I graduated from college. I knew that the language and environment I was accustomed to in a restaurant's kitchen was drastically different than working in an office (slightly debatable). Even though I was nervous about post-graduation, I decided to fake confidence and be transparent in the lack of experience I had in this field.
I was excited when I found out I was not the only KIG intern this summer. Miranda and Sarina had worked in offices before (heck, Sarina started as an HR intern at KIG 6 months prior), which intimidated me. I was the only person here who had never worked in an office. It took me about a week to feel comfortable asking for guidance and clarity from my team members. For some reason, my ego convinced me that I should know these things already. Which is comical now as I am getting exposure in this role, because insurance and HR is not necessarily common sense unless you are a professional with years of experience in the field. My colleagues were aware that I would have no idea what I was doing. I was holding myself back for fear of looking incompetent in front of them.
Once my superiors expressed that they had no expectations that we interns know anything about our roles and the organization when joining the team, I immediately broke out of my shell. I committed myself to becoming open to learning and growing, no matter how “embarrassing” the process may be. Unfortunately, I can recall some embarrassing things I said or did that could have been communicated or done more efficiently, but I recognize that is part of the process of learning anything new. Confidence comes with the mentality that what we want to learn is achievable.
Miranda, marketing intern
I started at KIG in May, and thank goodness I wasn’t the only intern here (sorry, Sarina). I would have felt extremely intimidated, on top of the nerves I already had. The only office experience I had previously was on IUP’s campus, and I only worked with two other student workers alongside my bosses. It was very casual, and a lot of the work was typical of that of a student worker: double-checking the work my boss had already done. The office was also for advancement services, so I was not doing any marketing work. Coming into this professional setting where I would work solely on projects that deal with my actual college major was exciting, and, you guessed it, slightly terrifying.
More responsibility will always seem intimidating, especially if you are an intern and it seems like the end of the world (or your employment) when you make mistakes. Working under people who write for a living is also very nerve wracking because of the level of experience they have. That lack of confidence in my ability to produce quality work was from the vast differences in experience. I want to remind you that everyone starts somewhere! Even after just two weeks I felt more confident in showing my work because it truly makes you better when you want to live up to the expectations and quality that you see in those you work with.
There’s also another thing to remember when you are intimidated by your internship: You are there for a reason. Your employer didn’t pull your name out of a hat and send you a job offer. Don't forget that they already saw promise in your skills and ability to do the job well. My confidence throughout this summer has grown so much because my team members trust me to help them. You must remember, and I include myself in this sentiment, that being an intern will never not cause nerves. It is normal!
Helpful (we hope) advice
Ultimately, we put our heads together and came up with these things to keep in mind as an intern:
- Everyone lacks confidence when they start somewhere new, regardless of their position.
- No one expects you to totally know what you're doing – your bosses and coworkers know that you're new.
- You'll make mistakes – it happens – but you learn the most from these mistakes, and it's okay to be upset about these mistakes.
- Your first few projects may not be the best quality, and that’s okay.
- Try not to overthink things.
- Try to make things fun. We find it can boost your confidence when everything isn't so serious.
- Remember that confidence comes with time. You won’t always feel how you did when you started.
So as much as we’d like to say that there is no need to be nervous, it’s inevitable, and that’s okay. Projects that are assigned to interns are probably going to be edited multiple times. In college we receive a grade and never think about the assignment ever again; in a professional setting this is not the case. You will be allowed to tweak projects multiple times until it’s A-quality work (if it wasn’t already).
Besides, as an intern, they probably won’t give you a project that would be devastating if done wrong – or one that isn’t going to be reviewed beforehand. Your work won’t being going straight to a client, customer, or the public – so don’t sweat it! Everyone knows that you’re here to learn!