No Ordinary Internship: Is there such a thing as a mature one?
Returnships are very topical at the moment and perhaps this may be a better title. The last time I was in an office as an employee was easily 20 years ago. I’ve either worked for myself or as part of a remote team and whilst I know photocopiers no longer exist, there was a part of me that imagined my 7 month internship would involve something akin to photocopying and copious coffee runs. I was wrong!
I don’t like labels nor do I like being categorized, and pride myself of being unconventional but to put my story into context, these are my labels; single mom, mature student, and now intern at OnePageCRM.
The best bit is I was able to leave those labels at the door and was welcomed into an organization that embraces diversity. Here I become just another piece of the diverse puzzle, rather than someone of a certain age.
It all began with a lecture given by Michael FitzGerald, CEO of OnePageCRM, as part of my Business Information Systems degree at NUI Galway. His tales of the early startup days and running from room to room to escape his noisy boys whilst trying to hold a business call were completely relatable. However it was his energy and the ethos of his company that I wanted to be a part of. Three years later I approached him, with some degree of cheek, asking if I could be his intern.
The benefit of doing an internship in a small company is you get to learn by osmosis – just by being present and open whether it’s the morning stand up or the Slack channels, you’re absorbing the company culture, learning new technologies, and gaining an understanding of just how everything fits together. While there was a good amount of synchronicity at play, finding a company, and more precisely someone who was able to identify what I was good at making this experience so much more than just an internship. I was put to work in an area that took me out of my comfort zone, allowed me to learn, to grow and finally to thrive and I was challenged with all the R’s or rather the aaagh’s…. GDPR, a big seminar and a live webinar to name but a few.
With any new job, it takes at least 2 to 3 months to reach that sweet spot where you know what you’re doing and you truly begin to understand the company dynamics and feel you are actually useful! The time preceding that is just pure panic and you hope no one can see you desperately paddling beneath the waterline. The only way you can survive the frantic duck phase is if you are supported and nurtured — and I was.
Returning to college as a mature student ignited my love of learning and its a demon — the more you feed it the more it wants. From the company ‘library’ to the sheer number of different perspectives on life and politics covered in the coffee room, I had found my spiritual home.
The social interaction of a workplace is so important and working remotely this is one area everyone bemoans the lack of. From yoga before work to WAP days (walk and a pint) to particularly melodic renditions of happy birthday, they delivered.
The highlight of my internship was The Gathering; where the whole team was brought together including the remote workers from as far afield as Colombia and Russia for two weeks to collaborate, socialize and learn. The culmination of this big event was a Hackathon where my job was the Chinese translation – no mean feat when you’ve only been on Duolingo a month and your repertoire includes “My younger sister is from Hong Kong’!
The secret of a good internship, or indeed any job, is to find a company and a role that is fluid; one that allows you to grow and, as much as you adapt, in return the role adapts to suit your strengths and working style. It’s impossible to begin to quantify how valuable a good internship is. I’ve watched The Internship where Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson overcome adversity and triumph at Google and whilst my experience wasn’t as Disney’esque, I pretty much had that ‘journey’ experience. At the start of my internship, we made a deal – I’ll work when and as I can around my ‘other’ life of mom and other work, and in return, I would be paid in ‘learning’. Deal done!
If I have one regret, it’s that I didn’t get a leaving do… I”m staying on – must have been my juggling skills. Now I get to work on a new exciting project that involves a CEO, a rockstar motorhome and a whiteboard. Watch this space……
We’re always on the lookout for great people to join our growing company! Check out all our job openings here.