During my sophomore year of college I felt that it was important that I find an internship, and then spend the summer dazzling the world with my fancy intern-capabilities. Or at least the prestigious company I would be interning with. And if not them, then my imagination.
A civil engineering firm that specialized in sewer plans and waste water treatment plant designs took me under its wing. I would be working in the Phoenix office, doing intern-type stuff.
However, this was not how I had imagined it.
I had a phone interview where I said, essentially, I would love to do any work and I love learning about anything and everything. This is not exactly true. Yes, I enjoy learning. “Anything and everything,” though, seems a bit ambitious.
It turns out, I do not particularly enjoy trying to read the handwriting of various people, and then typing what they wrote so that a potential sewer plan could better be developed.
Unfortunately sometimes, I have a good imagination. My imagination tossed logic aside and created amazing scenarios for me to envision happening during the internship. Maybe I would discover the cure to cancer, solve world hunger and make a mean cup of coffee, all on my first day as an intern. I had lofty thoughts – I knew these probably wouldn’t happen, but I hoped for big things.
Instead, I was an intern. And I use that word with the least possible significance it can receive.
However, I had no idea how little impact I had until the last week of work before I would leave to go back to school to start my junior year.
I was assigned the high-priority task of going to a store to get some cardboard boxes. I headed out and was confronted with a problem – what size box! My God! These sorts of details are important to interns!
Over the summer I had been assigned tasks of so little importance that I had to find details somewhere to fret over. “You said you wanted this printed out, Mr. Johnson, but did you want this printed out from the printer up here? Or the printer downstairs?”
No matter how insignificant my task was, I found questions that needed to be answered.
They loved it, I’m sure.
I called my immediate supervisor, a very patient (thank God) woman named Gina. She was not around. Should I call the boss-boss? Or the boss-boss-boss? No, this wasn’t that important.
Instead I called Sukru, a guy who had just started working there that summer. Sukru was one of a small group of people who were in charge of creating “tasks” for me (“I don’t know what to make him do! Is there a clever way we can tell him to play solitaire all the time but make it sound important?”). Every day I saw Sukru. Every day I said hello to him.
Every day I, apparently, made no impact on him at all.
I called the main line and asked to be connected to his desk.
“Hey, Sukru, how’s it going?”
“Ehh … Good … Thanks …”
“So I’m just wondering what size boxes I should get?”
“Ehh … I am very sorry … Who is this?”
“Oh, sorry. It’s Brad.”
“… Brad … (last name) …”
“From down. The halllll …” (approximately three cubicles away).
Interns of the world – don’t get your hopes up.