Reflecting back on my 6-month internship at the Alliance to Save Energy, one element stands out above all others: my coworkers.
The Beginning of My Internship
This was my first “real” full-time job, and by “real,” I mean business attire, 9-5, 5 days a week, office computer work. It was an adjustment, to say the least. I started feeling stir-crazy after a couple of days. I flew through the work I was given, doing it more to distract myself than anything else. My back ached from sitting in the same chair all day, and my eyes hurt from constantly staring at a screen. Having a two-hour round trip commute didn’t help either. By the end of the first two weeks, I was ready for a permanent vacation.
Six months later, I still don’t like working 40-hour weeks in a cubicle, but I don’t want to leave. What changed? Simple: I got to know my coworkers.
The Human Dimension in the Workforce
I started looking forward to the weekly meetings because I knew Dan would crack some form of goofy joke in them. David and I worked together to research sustainable breweries, which is an interesting topic in and of itself (so many beer puns!) but made even better because of David’s witty commentary. And of course there were my fellow interns, especially Chris and Elyse, two people who seemed to get along with everyone. Because of these and other initial interactions, I began to genuinely enjoy going to work.
One of the keys to success in the workforce is how well you can work with your coworkers. You don’t have to like them, but you do have to be able to work with them. We typically learn this while doing group projects in school or playing on sports teams.
During my first-year coursework at Bard CEP, I got to practice working in groups in a more professional setting, preparing me for my internship. As a result, I worked well with my coworkers. I also enjoyed being around them, and these two factors are what allowed me to have such a great internship.
Working As A Policy Intern, Helping Out the Events Team
One of the most memorable experiences working with my fellow coworkers occurred during preparation for the Alliance’s annual black-tie event in September. The Events team had recently lost its Communications intern (end of the internship) and its Events Associate (went to grad school), making them short-staffed while trying to prepare for this event. As a result, I began to assist them whenever they needed something.
For two weeks, I made name tags and labels, hand delivered and mailed invitations, checked lists, and helped set up on the day of the event, among other tasks. The week of the event, I stayed a couple of hours late almost every day after work, so much so that I got the day after the event off. (This is nothing compared to how long the actual Events team stayed after work: I left at 8 or 9; they were there until about 12 or 1 in the morning).
Given how much I dislike working 8 hours a day for 5 days a week, you’d think I would hate staying late to work on a project that wasn’t even in my job description. You’d be wrong. I loved almost every minute of it. (The exception was the hand-delivered invitations. Just ask Courtney. I began to jokingly glare at her whenever she gave me invitations to deliver. She started asking other people to give me the invitations as a result. At least I got to leave the office? Also, I think Courtney and I are still friends…).
Not only did I get to learn some new skills (who knew mail merge was a thing?), but also I got to interact with a side of the office I normally didn’t see very often. This interaction made it all more than worth it, especially if it involved teasing Courtney for making me hand deliver so many invitations and responding to Kara’s question about someone knowing how late Staples is open by saying, “Google does.” (Sleep deprivation can really do a number on one’s mental faculties. Fortunately, Kara thought it was funny. Probably because she was also sleep deprived).
I could go on and on about my coworkers, telling a different story about each of them to explain how wonderful I think they are. Unfortunately, this is a blog post, not an essay, so I’m limited to the brief stories I’ve told. Working at the Alliance was probably the best introduction to the 40-hour workweek I could ever get, and I’d do it all again if it meant getting to work alongside the incredibly hard-working, dedicated, and excellent employees at the Alliance to Save Energy. Thank you so much for all you’ve given me, and I wish you all the best of luck in the future.