The Intern, episode 2

Finding My Place

by Yanniek van Dooren

Have you ever looked at your calendar and wondered where the weeks went? If so, you can imagine my surprise when I noticed that it had already been sevInternen weeks since I started my internship at ING. Seven weeks since I walked up to the service desk, half an hour early and with my heart in my throat, to present myself as the new communications intern. Seven weeks since my internship adventure began.

To really understand my first experiences, you should know that my department, as well as many others at ING NL, have started to re-organise in the last few months. This means that instead of being taught the way I was supposed to act, work and communicate from the beginning, I am learning along with my colleagues and helping them give shape to a new purpose, a new culture and a new way of communicating. As you can imagine, this makes for quite an interesting and unique internship experience.

For one, it’s amazing to see how this kind of cultural change is communicated, interpreted and dealt with within the organisation. I wasn’t there when the process was set into motion, but I can see how much work and thought is put into communicating and implementing the changes. And although I can only judge from my direct experiences, it somehow seems to work. While organisational changes inevitably come with struggles and challenges, I am really inspired by my colleagues who are giving their all to make this new organization a success.

At the same time, the process brings with it the necessary struggle and uncertainty. Like my colleagues, who are still trying to figure out the new way of working and their own role in the organisation, I don’t have a pre-specified place to fill or projects to take on. As a consequence, I’ve noticed that it takes some work and a very open, proactive mindset to carve out a place for myself. I’ve definitely been pushed out of my comfort zone in my first weeks, but trust me if I say that it’s worth it. I’ve learned more than I could ever put in one blog post, and the experience has already added tons to my self-confidence.

While you might not get to be in the same situation as I am now, there are a few things that I learned that apply for any intern in any organisation. Whether your role is drawn out for you or you are on completely unexplored ground, the best advice I can give a new intern is to start with clear goals, and stick with them. Don’t wait for others to guess what you’d like to do, but figure out what you want and make it known. I’ve noticed that just talking about what I would like to achieve and do, even talking about my fields of interests made such a tremendous difference: people really do listen. Doing this not only dramatically increases your chances to really get the best out of your internship experience, it also shows that you are prepared, ambitious and not afraid to show initiative.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are definitely times that I just don’t feel ready to leave my WIPcomfort zone, and you bet I’m not always following my own advice. But when I look back at the girl who nervously entered the office seven weeks ago, I realise that I’ve taken steps that I’d never expected to take. I’m learning and progressing every day, and that’s what counts. I can’t wait to see where I’ll be in another seven weeks.

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