Media 06/03/2019 15:06:34

Steering The Intern-Ship

By: Mitchelle Nafula

So, this is my first time ever writing a blog. My hope that my experience as an intern will be relatable to most of you is in constant battle with the fear of boring you to death – but I’ll give it a try. If you’re about to or going through your first internship, here are a few points to keep in mind. If you’ve been through it already, brace yourself and be kind.

Being my first time in an office atmosphere, I didn’t know exactly what to expect. Just observing the everyday events taught me more about teamwork and how people work together to get things done. Very few interns know exactly what they want to do or accomplish. The first week of my internship was filled with mixed emotions; having somehow landed myself in digital advertising, I felt out of place and anxious. I had no idea how the organization operated. It was completely different from what I expected. Once I had settled into what would be my workspace, in the finance department, I felt pretty friggin’ excited. I got a chance to familiarize myself with Microsoft programs mainly Excel (always being reminded how critical it is in business), and I became more sophisticated in my accounting and soft skills. I felt so responsible because I had accomplished something in my career.

As days went by, I grew more and more curious about how an advertising agency runs. Within that period, I discovered that the firm encourages creativity. “Being part of this team sounds like a good idea,” I would mumble to myself. The field seemed like an interesting challenge to take on. When my internship in the finance department ended, I expressed my interest to intern as a community manager to the HR. Sometimes change is inevitable and I was very excited to be given that chance by my boss. No one wants to be left behind in this fast-paced world.

My duties as a community manager are diverse and ever-changing; concerns may arise at any time that need team work and effort to submit work whilst observing due diligence. I enjoy doing this job and the learning process is pretty amazing.

So far below are the most valuable lessons I have learnt:

1. Make an effort, not an excuse…

Reminiscing on how I came to learn about the digital advertising industry in depth, I was assigned to manage everything on our project management tool. Well, to be honest I had no idea how it works. By then, I was taking an online course; Google Digital Skills for Africa. I got a deeper insight on digital marketing and through the management app, I was able to learn more about all the ongoing projects as well as interact with every employee in the organization. Interacting with individuals who I came to realize faced as many challenges as I did was in its own way a major boost of self-esteem.

This is my take out: whenever there is workflow, I’m always willing to help. I don’t give room for excuses because excuses will always be there for you, opportunity won’t. Grab that chance and learn as much as you can!

2. Colleagues can be wonderful mentors…

If you’ve been lucky enough to find a good mentor, I’m sure you will concur with me that they will want to see you rise to the top and are willing to let you stand on their shoulders to get there. This will only happen if you take time to nurture professional relationships. Be proactive, don’t sit back and wait for things to happen. Take chances.

3. A bitter critic is the sweetest point of correction…

This happens to be my best lesson within this short period of time. Graciously accepting constructive criticism is what has made me who I am today. I feel like I am at home among the wise. Whenever I am assigned a task, before submitting it to my superiors, I send it to my peers for amends. With a few corrections and explanations on the do’s and don’ts, I would say that I have tremendously improved! I have gained confidence, and also learnt new approaches with which I can tackle my work better. We all need people who give us honest feedback so we can improve.

4. Do your own research. It’s better to know than to assume.

I felt so nervous during my first brainstorm meeting. This is because guys were dishing out brilliant ideas that had me staring in astonishment. I pondered on how people were able to craft these ideas and bring them to life. Later on, I discovered the only secret is continuous research, keeping oneself updated on what’s trending and attending as many meetings as possible… even without an invite. Before each day ends, I must learn something new – that’s my mantra. I’m now able to contribute my ideas in meetings and I have become more creative.

5. No limits

Finally, I choose not to limit myself to one particular task, since the advertising industry is continuously changing. I am looking forward to putting in more effort and ensuring that I produce good and efficient results that will contribute to the success of the company.

That said, my advice to all interns is, even the journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step. You either choose to push yourself and be aggressive or sit back and wait for things to be done - which will never happen - so choose wisely!

Start as early as possible and chart your own path!