What It’s Really Like to be an Intern

Interns, at least the ones most people see in movies, usually have a bad reputation attached to that title. That, or they don’t do anything except get coffee or be a secretary. I was working in the first camp as another leader, and I had one of my campers ask me what I did when I wasn’t in camp and I told her, “Basically whatever is asked of me.” She looked appalled and said, “How can they do that?! That’s cruel!” Is it really cruel to be working thirty hours a week that help me develop skills that I’ll use for the rest of my life? My work as an intern is anything but ordinary and anything but boring.

Before I got this internship, I was wondering what I would do for the summer. I was planning on sleeping in, working out, and whatever else I wanted to do. I was not imagining to be getting up early every weekday morning and working from nine to three.

In the month I’ve been working at the state museum, I’ve done so much. My job is not mundane in the slightest. Within the first couple weeks, I had been put on the floor to teach about earthquakes all day, went shopping with my supervisor for camp supplies, and learned how to work a freight elevator. I’m not sure many other 18-year-olds can say that. I love what I do. I get assigned tasks and projects that I’m entrusted to do without anyone really breathing down my neck about how or when I do it. I’m in charge of a large portion of the camps and how future camps can run smoother. But again, I don’t have a set deadline of when something needs to be done. I’m in a unique position where I get to work with both adults and kids, usually on a daily basis. These adults include teachers, scientists, and other professionals. I see where most of the museum stuff is stored and I know how most of it is prepared to be presented in the museum.

I jokingly “complain” that I don’t get paid for my “job” (being there thirty hours a week makes it a job to me), but I really enjoy it a lot. I do interesting things, and I’m not stuck in a boring routine. I know this will give me great experience and possibly even a recommendation later on down the road. I do way more than “just get coffee”. In fact, I’m so busy, that I don’t do that at all. I don’t get treated as anything less simply because I’m an intern.

Then, when I’m in camp, I’m in charge of kids, not just doing something random on the side while older adults handle all the kids. I’m part of the action and involved in these kids lives. I had parents ask me questions, and kids interact with me. There was a time in the week I was in camp before I left for Florida that I was in charge of nine kids by myself. They answered to me and called me “Miss Kimberly”. They understood that I was an authority, even if I am a little closer to their age. While I did not always know the museum as well as other employees, but I still have a badge where I can go anywhere else any other employee can. I’m learning the layout of the museum pretty well. I get discounts at the food place both at the state museum and the Eiteljorg (if I ever choose to go over there for food), and my parking gets covered every day (let me tell you, parking downtown gets seriously expensive).

Yesterday, I got recruited to help with a camp task and I actually got to walk the canal as I helped the kids. I’m not technically in camp this week, and I still got to work with them.

To me, being an intern isn’t boring or just busywork. It’s a very large portion of my day, and I usually look forward to it. What I do this summer will help me in my career as a teacher. I’m making connections, sharpening and learning skills, and doing something worth more than money.

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