My last day at my internship and what I learned

Today’s my last day at my internship. I can tell you that the feeling is bittersweet. Knowing that I won’t have to do any extra work outside of school is relieving, but I’m definitely going to miss the workplace and the people.

I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I want to pursue during my time here. I’ve pushed myself to do things I don’t want to do, and I’ve been introduced to knowledge that I never knew about. I’ve expanded my knowledge and I’ve become more confident in myself and my potential.

I was humbled many times in the face of the talented people working here, and received so many blessings.

I realized this as I was writing letters for the workers I was close with. I took time to really pour out my heart in small pieces of paper, and I tried to express my gratitude as much as possible.

I focused on how the workers made me a better worker or person, and I admitted my weaknesses in my interactions with each of them. I admitted my biggest regret in looking back at my time here, and I thanked them for allowing me to understand my flaws, whether it was directly or indirectly.

My Biggest Regret

I realized I was never proactive. Whenever I found free time, I didn’t look for ways to help other people in the office or get to know anyone a little more. Instead, I focused on my self development or my schoolwork.

I would read articles or watch tutorials and learn things that I wanted to learn, because sometimes my work wasn’t stimulating enough. I thought that the work I was given was below me, and that it was menial tasks that I could put off until later.

Now I realize that no matter how small the task may seem, I always came out of it learning something.

The task wasn’t just my manager’s way of giving me something that didn’t matter. It was a necessary, fundamental process that was essential to the big picture. I was helping to build the foundations.

Whether it was data entry or research, it served as a building block for the final product. I just couldn’t see that because I wasn’t looking at the big picture.

I learned that I should continue to ask for responsibilities, no matter what you might think of it. If you can finish all the tasks your manager gives you, their trust in you will become stronger and you might handle more abstract, harder tasks.

My biggest regret is that I didn’t push myself outside of my comfort zone, and did the bare minimum. I’m thankful for this experience, because it helped me figure out one of my many weaknesses that I’ve been ignoring. I can learn from my failures here and never make the same mistake in my next workplace.

You don’t “deserve” anything

I’m going to be honest, I had a different perspective of how my last day was going to go. I thought the people I was close to were going to be a little more sad. I thought the workers would all know that I was leaving and was going to surprise me. I thought I was special, and that I deserved this treatment.

I received the rude awakening when I came into the office, and it went on like any other day. A lot of people found out that day, and just shot me a passing comment like “No way, that’s so sad” and “What are we gonna do without you?” You know, the common courtesy.

I was initially sad and bitter. I had spent the last 9 months at this place and none of you could have had prepared a little more heartfelt goodbye for me? Is this what I get for giving my all in this place? How could they not appreciate me?

Then I realized how spoiled I was being. How arrogant I was in my own value. I decided to approach my emotions from a different perspective.

Why did I think I deserved all this?

Why did I imagine a special party just for me?

What have I done to make an impact in this office that would be well deserving of a celebration?

I realized I was inflating the work that I’d done here. I realized I barely made a dent working here, because of my lack of proactivity. I never went out of my way to get closer to the other workers. I only stayed within my boundaries, and stayed where I was comfortable. I never tried to work with other people and create value for them.

Knowing all this, how could I have been so arrogant as to think I deserved anything at all? I understood that I had been just another intern. I wanted to believe my contributions would change, but I had given the bare minimum and expected results and praise.

I regret not being able to do more for the people here, and I regret not being able to create more memories.

Instead of feeling bad for myself, I decided to learn from my mistakes and carry these lessons to my next workplace. I realized I needed to humble myself and continue to do so moving forward.

This just goes to show how I didn’t make as big of a mark as I thought I had. I want to make sure I make an impact in my next workplace, and create actual value for the people there. I want to leave a legacy, not a memory. I wanted to leave a monument, but all I left were footsteps.

Be punctual and reliable

I got into the bad habit of coming in late all the time. It first started at 5–10 minutes, and it got worse until I was coming in 20 minutes late regularly. Since no one said anything, I thought it was okay for me. Over time, it just became normal and I stopped seeing it as something negative.

This is not okay. Being late to your job makes you unreliable. Being unreliable means no one will trust you with responsibilities. If no one will trust you with responsibilities, no one will take you seriously. You will never be able to contribute value to your workplace if you keep this bad habit.

Sometimes you can’t help your situation. The bus or train was delayed… There was traffic… Life gets in the way, I get it. But there are simple fixes to these problems too.

Try to get to work 30 minutes earlier, and try to be the first one into the office. You won’t get caught in the rush hour crowd, and even if you’re early you have time to collect your thoughts and get ready for the day.

Speaking of being reliable, make sure you finish your tasks as quickly and efficiently as possible. Make sure you always try to under-promise and over-deliver. Make yourself a reliable worker, and you will be given real tasks and responsibilities.

If you don’t have any work, be proactive. Make connections with other people in other departments. Take interest in other people’s jobs and expand your role as an intern. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find something more interesting in another department than your current one, and you can get more experience through asking for tasks.

There are so many other things I want to reflect on, but for now I would say that these are my top 3 lessons in my internship.

  1. Be Proactive
  2. You don’t “deserve” anything
  3. Be punctual and reliable

Oh, and one last lesson.

Be grateful. For anything and everything you do in the workplace. Treat every interaction and lesson as a blessing. Thank everyone in the office for the little things they do for you. Show your gratitude through small gifts or kind words.

People will reciprocate more often than not, and you will always have a positive vibe around you. You will feel happier around people, and people will feel happier around you.

The connections you make at an internship can go far, and might help you in ways that you never expected.

Thank you Emily, Curry, Angela, Nate, Rey, and the rest of the people who have helped me become who I am today.

I am forever grateful for all the memories and experiences I was able to have because of everyone here.

Until next time,

William Cho