An Intern’s Survival Guide: Chapter Three

An Intern’s Survival Guide: Chapter Three was originally published on Vault.

Why We Work, and Finding Your Fit

In our third chapter of the Intern’s Survival Guide, we’re looking at how you can gain a sense of worth from doing a job – and how doing so could deeply enrich your life, as a whole! We’ve got four tough questions for YOU this time, to help pivot your thinking towards finding an awesome fit.

How do you see your work?

If you’re going to be working for a large proportion of the rest of your life, you need to have one thing clear: what is it you expect to be getting out of that work? Do you want to turn up to your job, pull the necessary levers, and return home with your earned salary? Is your job going to be a rung in the ladder of success, where you eventually land feet-first at the top of your idea of a corporate food-chain? Or does your work bring you satisfaction on a social and cultural level? Do you want to pursue jobs and relationships that are about creating some sort of change, big or small but regardless real? Once you have decided where on the gradient you lie, you can quite effectively shut down and sound out ideas of future work that are going to match your personality. After all, there’s no point pursuing that high-paying position that is seventy hours a week, if you hate the role, lack the expertise, and have no interest in acquiring it. Setting yourself up for the best success means setting yourself up to make choices that take care of your needs in life.

What kind of a worker are you?

For our forefathers, working full time wasn’t just the norm – it was perhaps the only way to do things. Work has changed in a plethora of ways, from the introduction of the eight-hour day and two-day weekend to some people’s move back towards “gig economy”-type work. In your youth, working a job may be a turbulent exercise. You might not be able to guarantee enough hours, or you may need to work too many, and may not be earning what you want. But that’s not to say that this will always be the case – after all, you’re investing serious time into figuring out what your future is going to be! With that in mind, it can be a great idea to spend time reflecting on the style of work that suits you best. Are you the sort of person who would struggle without peer-to-peer contact? What about work that involves physical duress? Or work that is fast-paced? Are you into problem-solving, or simply doing what is demanded on the day? Figuring out what kind of worker you are and want to be will help you communicate needs to your employers and test out different techniques in the office when you’re doing your next internship.

How can your work keep you engaged?

Even if you find a job that’s a great fit for you and you can perform it according to your own needs, you are still going to face an uphill battle in feeling connected to the actual role that you fulfill. For example, an engineer may love the maths and lines that they work with day in and day out, but what’s grounding them and keeping them devoted to any particular task? In answering this, you need to consider how you are permitted – and how you permit yourself – to be committed to your work. First and foremost, do you feel trusted by your colleagues to complete your tasks in the way that suits your productivity most? It could very well be the case that you’re given the flexibility to do so, but that doesn’t mean you feel secure in the way you get to operate. Seeking autonomy both written and unwritten can go a long way to making you feel more connected to your mission. And on the topic of missions, do you understand the mission of the company? If you can connect the needs of an enterprise back to your own agenda, you’ll be able to connect the dots between your own work and your broader environment. And finally, how are you allowed to invest yourself in your job? Do you and your employers work together to ensure that you feel like you’re spending your work hours wisely (and do you get to rest, learn or play as part of your work to help make those things happen)? If you’re unsure of answers to any of these questions, start by addressing them yourself and then keep them in the back of your mind for future work.

What are you going to do with all of these?

So you’ve been thinking about how the above questions matter to you. Maybe you’ve made some changes to the way you’ll do things or have even changed your career plans to accommodate some last-minute revelations. These are really important steps – but you are only so capable of making these positive changes on your own! The next step is to start applying your inquisitive mind to your interactions at the office. What questions do you have prepared for your next interview, for example? Are you going to press on office culture, or on individuality? What about asking your manager to help you understand the value of your work better? Your attitude will guide everything with this line of questioning: if your superiors see that you are genuinely curious and eager to learn, you should be able to expect their guidance and support. With their help, and your own dedication, anything is truly possible – you’ll be one step closer to not just surviving work but thriving in it.

Infosys InStep is Vault’s Best Internship of 2021. This internship program also ranks No. 1 across many of our Best Internships of 2021 categories, including Best Internships for Diversity, Diversity with Respect to Women, LGBTQ+ Diversity, Racial & Ethnic Diversity, Quality of Life, Compensation & Benefits, Computer Science, and more. For a complete list of the program’s rankings, visit the Infosys Instep Vault profile.

By Infosys - Vault
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