Here’s something about my internship that was both a challenge and an opportunity for me.
My parents are immigrants, and opportunity for upward movement in any industry is limited when your English language skills and education are limited. As such they, like many Asians immigrants before them, preferred to be small businesses owners and have been self-employed as long as I can remember.
I am no stranger to work, but before this summer, I had never worked anywhere else besides at the family business. I knew that if I was going to pursue my career, I would have to get used to working for other people. I was nervous going into my internship because office politics is not something I have ever had to deal with before. There was also the fact that at the family warehouse, I have the liberty of stepping out or taking a nap whenever I’m not feeling well. In general there is a laidback-ness about working with family that I worried had spoiled me from successful employment at an actual office.
By simply taking this internship, I got the opportunity to get out of the comfort zone of the self-employment I grew up in. The transition was actually an easy one because the office I worked at wasn’t very uptight, though there were certainly standards of professionalism. In a lot of ways the work there was easier than working at the family business – instead of people constantly looking to me for decision-making or new tasks, I could rely on my supervisor to tell me exactly what I needed to do. But on the same side of that coin, I felt limited by the impact I could make. But perhaps that is just the nature of working in the non-profit sector. I get the sense that the actual employees are also limited in this regard, but while my limits were caused by my being only an intern, it seems that their own impact is limited by the organization itself, including among other things its emphasis on being nonpartisan. This necessity of pussyfooting around certain topics was a challenge about working in non-profit I hadn’t anticipated before starting this internship.