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Friday, July 20, 2012
By Leta Stevens
There is a certain kind of worry that comes with an internship. An unease of sorts that makes you doubt yourself. Are you good enough to get a full-time job offer? Is your performance meeting and exceeding the expectations of your bosses and senior management?
When it comes down to it, we interns simply want to succeed. We want to do our jobs well and be recognized for the initiative, effort, and hard work that we put in over the summer. And we would not be ungrateful if that recognition came in the form of a job offer.
In my internship, every intern has to complete a personal impact project. We have weeks to prepare, plenty of resources to use, and lots of people to impress. Now, this is not my first rodeo (in fact, it is my fourth… internship, that is). This one though, could be for all the marbles.
I graduate from Purdue University in December and will need a full-time job for after graduation. Ending this summer with a full-time job offer would alleviate a lot of chaos from my final semester in school.
As this is internship #4, I have completed many tasks and projects that have been assigned to me throughout my past internships. I have never doubted my skills nor have I ever worried about my performance at work.
This was the eighth week of my internship and I definitely hit the lowest low I have ever had at work. I was in complete panic mode. I was ready to break down… I was ready to give up.
After all of the advice I had sought, all of the analyses I had done, and after all of the work I had completed I just felt as if I was not doing as well as I could have been. But I knew that I had put in a lot of time and effort into my project. I had done the best I could up to this point. So why did I still feel like it was not enough?
Simple. In college, you work hard and complete an assignment and then you receive a letter grade. In the real world, it is not like that. In corporate retail, you will never have the right answer. Consumer trends, wants, and buying behaviors are always changing and evolving. Popular styles and colors go through extremely fast lifecycles and you will never know if the sales plans you are making an educated guess about are correct.
I was being way too hard on myself. As my mother likes to tell me, I am always my own worst critic. I would never get any immediate closure over the answers and decisions I was proposing. In fact, no answer is immediate in retail, you have to wait to see your sales performance. If it is the right or wrong answer, we will not know until the next retail season rolls around and sales are extremely high (or extremely low).
You need to learn to adapt to an ever-changing and ever-evolving world where you may not ever know the right answer (at least not right away). If this is the case in your industry, do not let it get to you. You will not get anywhere by worrying or doubting yourself.
In the end I realized one thing: I just need to do my best. I need to look at the work I’m doing and if I know that I put my all into it and have confidence in the proposals I am making, then that is all that really matters.
As the planner in my buying office told me, “It’s like you’re making chili. You might ask someone to taste it and they’ll recommend adding salt. You’ll put more salt in the chili. Then, you will ask someone else. They will probably tell you that it has too much salt in it. The bottom line is, if you like the chili and you are happy with the chili you made, that’s all that matters. After all, you are the one who has to eat the chili.” Thank you, Adam, for the wonderful analogy.
The story might have nothing to do with retail or sales plans, but when he put it like that it finally clicked for me. I just have to do the work that is given to me and put my all into it. After all, I am the one who will deal with the results (or eat the chili, if you will).
So if you have learned anything from my Intern Diary this week, just remember to do your best. Have confidence. Work hard. If you are having doubts, seek advice or help. Only good things will come from these actions.
Posted By: Elynor Moss
Friday, July 20th 2012 at 10:35AM