Thanks to the generosity of the Bergami Family and the UNH Division of Student Affairs, eight UNH undergraduate students received a stipend to cover expenses related to their unpaid internship experience. The eight recipients will be reflecting on their internship experience over the course of the summer. This entry is from Maggie Lyon, Nutrition & Dietetics Major, who is interning with Danbury Farmers’ Market.
- It’s ok to be the dumbest guy in the room.
Accept this as foundational fact. Acquiesce to the feeling of the bottom: observe quietly while moving quickly and deliberately. Know you will make mistakes and begin to accept (and feel good about) failure. The fabric you weave now will help you tremendously in your future, and feeling uncomfortable is invariably a major piece of the loom. That’s the feeling growth takes on manifested both physically and mentally. I remember on my externship at the Mohonk Mountain House in the pastry kitchen back in 2004, I would almost be in tears at the end of each day because it was so demanding. I wasn’t used to production demands, I never felt smart or capable enough, and my body hurt from lifting 50 lb. sacks of flour into 80 quart mixers all day. I had to soak my feet every single night because I wasn’t used to standing in clogs for 8-10 hours a day. On one of my days off I slept for 16 hours straight! I was tired. I was beaten. And I just kept going. The farmer’s market is much different than the restaurant industry, but I still struggle with the possibility of coming up short in the demands of my colleagues and supervisor. But, everyday I set out to beat my personal best from the day before.
Ultimately, be respectful, offer your opinion when asked, work hard, and show up on time showered and ready for what the day brings.
- Take notes.
A man wiser than me once told me (in no uncertain terms) to carry a note pad and pen on me at all times. It became a habit and has, and probably will continue to help me move along. This says so many things about you: the most important being that you’re serious about what’s going on, and if you’re showing up people tend to show up for you.
It’s impressive. Not only will this help you in remembering the names of people you work with, and important meeting points (or what have you), it’s good for jotting down little bits of meaning you pick up on in your co-worker’s lives which can make Thank You card writing and gift giving significantly more personal. I cannot stress the importance of this alone. This is the difference between being a good intern and a new hire. A set of 3 little Moleskins will only set you back ten bucks, but it’ll put you far ahead. Trust me.
- Know thyself.
I’m really good at a lot of things, but if there were an olympic sport of biting off more than I could chew and throwing my entire life out of balance, I would have many gold medals. I have no shortage of times of when I just jumped right into the deep end without thinking it totally through. Now, I’m not saying you have to have a complete hour to hour schematic of what your life with an internship looks like, but you do have to consider other variables and realistically look at time management, which I’ve been historically bad at.
Let’s use my life currently as an example: I’m working upwards of 25-30 hours per week in a commercial kitchen. It is hot and the days are physically demanding. I go to the gym 5 days a week for 1 hour at a clip. I live with my fiance, and we are planning our wedding for next May. I work on content for the farmers market in Danbury for about 20 hours a week at my house and 16 hours in Danbury (1 hour commute each way), 5 of which are teaching nutrition workshops to sweet, yet unruly, market patrons. I try to sleep at least 7 hours per night and cook almost all of my meals. It’s a lot of work and movement and not a lot of rest and relaxation.
I implore you to think about what your days will realistically look like, and what the internship on the whole will do for your future career. Is it worth it? What do you seek to gain in terms of marketable experience? What do you hope to show for this? Those are your guiding stars. For me, it is worth it: I’m making contacts, stretching my teaching skills, and generating content for my portfolio. I really should have considered working and interning simultaneously, however, as it’s not exactly fun or easy. Do as I say, not as I do. This is another trust fall event, but seriously: learn from my mistakes.