Three Things I’ve Learnt After Three Weeks of My Internship

This time four weeks ago, I had just started my summer internship in Newcastle. Nervous doesn’t even begin to cover how I was feeling walking into the building. However, after three full weeks here, I think I’m finally finding my stride, or at least have stopped the nervous gabbling long enough to get some work done.

I still have another ten weeks to go, so there’s plenty of time for me to fuck up learn more. I have already learnt some valuable lessons in these first few weeks, though, which I think were pretty important for me to get on board ASAP.

  1. Make a good impression

    On top of wearing that look of ignorance that every newbie can’t hide, I was also so over-dressed in my black dress and boots when everyone else was in jeans and jumpers. I’d wear ball gowns every day if I could, so being over-dressed doesn’t really embarrass me. Under-dressing is a different matter altogether. If I had rocked up in my dirty Nikes whilst the rest of the office were in suits and heels, I don’t think I could have gone back for a second day.

    Also, you have to brown-nose a bit. Without cutting corners or being sloppy, power through all the work they give you and ask for more. In fact, suck up like an oversized teacher’s pet and offer to do all the crappy jobs no one else wants to be stuck with, like filing or doing a tea round. Eagerness might make you feel ridiculous but it’ll benefit you in the long run when you become known as the intern who actually does work – which can be a rare occurrence in some companies.

  2. Sometimes, you won’t have anything to do

    An intern is there to help out and get work experience. You really don’t have much responsibility at all because most of the time, you’re just assisting rather than heading up any big projects. I mean, that’s great because you can make a few mistakes without major repercussions, but it also means that sometimes, there’s nothing for you to do whilst you wait for everyone to do the high-priority stuff. Occupy yourself if you can with extra work, tidying up what you’ve done… Just don’t moan about being bored, or keep pestering the people who have actual things to do.

  3. You are temporary

    You weren’t there last month, and in a month or two you’ll be gone again. Although I’ve been lucky with the team I’m on (quick note: they are the NICEST people to work with), you cannot expect everyone to suddenly become your best friend. I’m not saying don’t talk to people because being the moody kid* is just as bad, but don’t jump into all their conversations or try to get involved in their personal lives. If you’re not asked to a team night out, don’t invite yourself along. It pays to be friendly, but not desperate, or just plain creepy.
    *yes, they will probably consider you as a kid if you’re a student.

I’ve heard so many horror stories about internships, from hours of pure boredom to being treated like shit on someone’s shoe. I’m definitely one of the lucky few who has stumbled into a position with lovely colleagues and interesting work, like publishing original content, interviewing incredible people and being able to see the outcome at event days. I am so grateful that I chose to take a bit of gamble by applying for this internship and living alone, away from home, rather than working somewhere I have no interest in at home.

Maybe it seems like bragging but I’m just happy that I seem to be giving myself a bit of direction. Let me be a bit smug.

I can’t wait to see what happens over the next two months or so. Maybe I’ll find a career path. Maybe I’ll finally learn how everyone likes their tea (oh my god I am useless at this, I always make it too strong).

How is your summer going? Have you started a job or an internship?

Best wishes,

Siobhán

An Introvert’s Guide to a Night Out

It’s Friday night and you have two options: a night on the sofa with a glass of wine, your favourite movie and your comfiest sweatpants, OR reply to that text inviting you to head into town for the sesh.
(NB: ‘sesh’ is a word I haven’t nor ever will use seriously, don’t worry)

Don’t get me wrong, I love a drink as much as the next girl, particularly a good gin and tonic. Some of my best nights have been dancing until the early hours, or making my way down the cocktail menu in a bar until I can barely stand in my heels. However, I’m always an advocate for getting a few bottles in from Tesco, calling round some friends, and being able to have a proper laugh when we can actually hear each other.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a twenty year old grandma. That means I also have no issue getting into a bubble bath with a good book and a glass of prosecco – in fact, I’ll go one step further and say I actually enjoy spending the occasional Friday night in with myself.

bath-988502_960_720

So when I’m really not in the mood to go out, taking off my sweatpants to squeeze into my jeans is already an unappealing idea. Add in the prospect of queuing to get into a sweaty club full of drunk strangers spilling their drinks on the floor and bumping into me, and I’m already considering retreating to my duvet.

My understanding of introversion, at least for the purpose of this post, is that feeling of being drained by social situations, even if you do have fun, and just needing to take the time out for yourself. Put that in the context of university, where the student lifestyle almost demands regular three-day benders. There is so much pressure to drink until you forget your name, then drink some more. If you don’t go out more than twice a week, it’s like there’s something wrong with you.

Fear not, my fellow introverts. 

Whether it’s a birthday, work do or some other unavoidable night out, it is possible to have a good time rather than intensely staring at the clock until it’s an acceptable time to scarper. One of my biggest worries is that I’ll disappoint my friends or dampen the mood if I don’t seem to be having as much fun as them.

cocktails-1149171_960_720Think about where exactly you’re going. Pubs and bars are always so much more low-key than clubs. You can grab a drink, head to a table and it’s all very relaxed because there’s no pressure beyond having a catch up with your friends.

If the plan is to head to a club though, I like to suggest somewhere that plays the kind of music I’m into. Personally, house bores me to tears, whereas I love funk, soul or R’n’B. I’m lucky that in Newcastle there’s so much choice for different music tastes, and I’ve quickly found my favourite places to go to now. Ignoring the crowds of dancing drunk people is pretty easy when the playlist makes you want to join in with them.

Once you start looking, you’ll start to notice other introverts cropping up too. We’ll be in the toilets taking a minute to recollect, or at the bar ordering a drink just for something to hold. Although it goes against the nature of introversion, these are the people I like to get to know on a night out. No one else will understand how uncomfortable, shy or exhausted you feel.

Even simply acknowledging one another lets us know we’re not alone in the way we’re feeling. I don’t know about anyone but I’ve always presumed I’m just boring because sometimes I want to be by myself instead of surrounded by people. It’s okay though – some of us feed off being around others, and some of us have to recharge on our own before we’re back to our usual selves. Extroverts, please bear with us whilst we grab a cup of tea and some much-needed me-time.

Candle Book Glass Of Wine

Any other introverts out there? How do you cope on a night out? 

Best wishes,

Siobhán

Embarking On An Internship

It dawned on me recently that this time next year I’ll have to find an actual job and that just having a degree is not enough to guarantee me a career anymore. My CV is fine – it’s got all my work experience since I was sixteen, all my extra-curricular activities, all my volunteer work… But when it comes down to it, a few years in a bookshop, some office skills and an interest in dance aren’t really applicable to the kind of job I want. Of course they’re great things to include because they show all the usual requirements that employers look for, like organisation, time management, enthusiasm and so on. However, it’s pretty much shoved down our throats now that students just can’t seem to get jobs.

This is my cue, as a natural stress-head, to go into panic mode.

I’ll never get a job. I’ll end up going back home. I’ll be sponging off my parents. My degree is a waste. I’ll never succeed.

Etcetera etcetera.

I realise I am catastrophising but this is where my train of thought ends up if I don’t stop it. Instead of dwelling on worst case scenarios, I channelled this into productivity and applied for thirty summer jobs and internships in one go. Clearly I go from one extreme to the other but at least this time, I was doing something productive, right?

Surprisingly, I got an interview. And then I was offered the only placement on a really exciting internship. So instead of spending my summer doing shifts in a shop, or slogging it out at in 9-5 admin role (not that there is anything wrong with these, but I’ve done both and they’re just not for me), I’m going to be working in events communication and PR on a project that I am genuinely excited by, and could potentially be the area I’m looking into post-graduation.

Interning has a reputation for reducing desperate students to the “office coffee bitch” but do you know what? If that’s what happens, then that’s okay. It’s only four months and if I walk away having learnt anything, it’s much better than having sat on my arse and binge-watching Love Island all summer. Speaking from experience, the novelty of lazy days really starts to wear off after a week of wearing nothing but old sweatpants.

Being able to turn that period of self-doubt into something positive was not something I could have predicted at all but I am so glad I did. I’m not usually one to put myself out there and just go for something out of my comfort zone but I’ve proved to myself that when I do, sometimes it can develop into a really great opportunity.

I start tomorrow – even writing that is a bit nerve-wracking – and I definitely want to keep updating what I’m doing and how it’s going. Knowing that I’ve got this experience coming up makes the prospect of having to go out into the real world in a year’s time a little less daunting.

What are your plans this summer? Are you working, travelling or having a well-deserved break?

Best wishes,

Siobhán

A Few Things I’ve Learnt Upon Finishing Second Year

I’ve just handed in my final essays for the second year of my English Literature degree at Newcastle University. The deadlines which had been hanging over my head for months are gone and now I can finally relax, although that will be short-lived as I’ve got a pretty hectic summer ahead of me. Two years of university has taught me a lot, from vital skills like how to deal with a hangover in lectures, to learning just how long energy companies think is acceptable to keep you on hold. However, aside from these highly important lessons, it’s also given me a sense of the bigger picture:

University goes by fast

And by fast, I mean the literal speed of light. It feels like only last month I was saying goodbye to all my sixth form friends, packing everything from home into the car and setting off to Newcastle. So much has happened since I moved into halls but even then, I still remember the panic of applying for university: personal statements, open days, results… I would not want to go back and do that all again. It was such an uncertain time because until you opened that envelope in August with your grades in it, you had no idea if you would be leaving home, and which part of the country you would even be living in.

First year feels like a blur now and I can’t believe that I only have a year left of my course. I did so much in those initial few months, let alone over these two years. If I’ve learnt one thing from this, it’s to make the most of university life because it feels like it’s over almost as soon as it starts. That sounds so depressing but it’s as a result of having so many new experiences crammed into such a short space of time. It’s true what they say – time flies by when you’re having fun! (I hate myself more than you do for typing that)

I stress – a lot – and for no real reason

My essay deadlines were mid-May, but I had full plans and first drafts done by the end of March. Bear in mind this was before we’d covered half the topics for the semester. I panic-plan, which means I stress myself out unnecessarily when most people are still recovering from January’s exams. This should mean that as the deadlines loom, I’m relaxed because I’ve got full essays to hand in but nope. I stared at these ones for hours, tweaking words, then sentences, then whole paragraphs, only to go into a complete meltdown that I shouldn’t even be doing my course. I am well-known for overthinking to the point where I am convinced my whole life will be a failure and the apocalypse is probably right around the corner.

Now is the time to work on your CV

It’s come to light that, as I am now two-thirds of the way through my degree, this time next year I will be expected to find an actual job. If that’s not injustice, I don’t know what is. With four months of summer ahead of me, this is most likely the last time I will be able to try something completely new without the pressure of long-term contracts or student loans to pay off (yet!). Whether you book a last minute flight and go backpacking, or find an internship in a field you hadn’t even considered as a career, the summer between your penultimate and your final year is the perfect opportunity to see what is out there for you after your degree. I applied for an internship in marketing and communications, something which is usually aimed at Business, Economics or Media students, but ended up being offered the only open position. Just goes to show that if you put yourself out there, there are so many ways you can boost your CV in time for next year when you’re dropped into the deep end of the real world.

Relationships change and that’s okay

Out of everyone I met in Freshers’ Week a year and a half ago, I only regularly talk to three or four of them. I was convinced by the end of first year that some of the friends I had would be with me for life, but they’ve drifted away and we haven’t spoken in months. The acquaintances I made in study groups seemed fleeting, yet I’ve gone on to share some of my best second year memories with them. Basically, friendships fluctuate and evolve in university more than they ever did in Sixth Form because you have so many more people to meet and connect with, and it is so much easier to find new relationships and cut out the toxic ones. That’s not to say that the people you meet on Day One won’t stick around though – one of my best friends in the world was the first person I met in halls.

I’ve only got one year until I’m no longer in full-time education, so I intend to make the most of what third year has to offer. This is probably going to consist largely of stress, stress and more stress because my life will revolve around my dissertation but hey, the upside is that I’ll still get student discount in Topshop so who’s the real winner?

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from being a student? Or what are you looking forward to most about university?

Best wishes,

Siobhán