Advice for Intern graduates

Random Observation/Comment #283: If it were up to me, I’d hire them all.

Yes he did.

My career has been an ever-evolving creature with new roles and responsibilities around every corner.  Starting as an intern, I have a bit of empathy for their shift from the university environment to the working world.  It’s definitely a bit of a jump and all of my mentors were right when they said that there’s no level of education that can replace work experience.

It’s not just the content of the work, but the relationships you maintain and the way you juggle everything important while staying productive.  After work starts, time tends to speed up and routines get etched into a comfort zone.  You want desperately to surprise yourself, but you wind up just passing the weekdays to get your free time on the weekend.  And then once more, the weekend flies by with your butt on your couch watching Breaking Bad – not that there’s anything wrong with that…

This is really a warning of what will most likely happen if there isn’t a conscious effort to continuously strive and stay productive.  If you do not manage your life, it will spiral out of control due to the abundance of freedoms and utter lack of guidance after you’ve “grown up.” This “growing up” thing means taking charge of your own life and taking responsibility for those that you love and don’t love.  It’s a vast open realm partially explored in university, but never quite understood until you’re just surrounded by possibilities and very difficult choices.

When you reach the point where you feel you’ve grown up, remember the following things:

  1. Never stop dreaming.  Careers appear in hindsight as a walk of life. None are identical and none of them should be cookie-cut.  Make your own career and take control of your aspirations with a bit of project management. In this case, your life is the project and your deliverable is your character.  When I say character, I mean your decision-making skills that spawn from your particular experiences and growth in life.  You may have an introvert or extrovert personality, or be good at some things more than others, but your freedom to make decisions should not be taken lightly.  Chase your dreams. There is no more ‘guided tour’ moving forward.  No one takes care of your bedding and bus transportation – it’s just you roughing it out with a backpack and looking for new things to see and new friends to meet.  If you treat life as a journey, then make sure you’re not aimlessly wandering.
  2. Step outside of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to make big decisions and take opportunities.  Stretch your abilities every day and make harder challenges for yourself.  Follow the 30 day challenge.
  3. Stay connected in a community. Don’t under estimate how approachable people are.  The term ‘networking’ is used too much and has become almost sleazy in how it represents ‘Corporate America’.  Mentorships are a better term as they suggest a one-to-one relationship of focused learning.  However, what all this really means is the building of a community. You are all a part of the community and if you think macro enough, so is humanity.  If you do things to help the community, the community will need you and help you back.  As a collective – an extended family, or what have you – we need to work together as a team.  In all walks of life, this will always be true.

Most importantly (and I have mentioned this many times in the past), remember that health and happiness should always be the driving factor of your decisions. If there is anything that jeopardizes your health or your happiness (without proper reward), it’s probably not worth it.  Too many people in your life would miss you if you weren’t here.  With that thought in mind, I’ll always keep walking towards my true North. I hope others do as well.

~ See Lemons Manage Interns