In March, I received an email from MWW offering me a summer internship in New York. This was a lot to take in at once – not only was a southern girl like me about to tackle New York City for an extended period of time, but I would also be working at a PR firm for the first time. I have always been told that internships are where you decide what you want to do in life, where you network, and where you make the most of every opportunity. These concepts were hard to grasp at first, especially as I was navigating through a busy city alone.
I’ll start with being an intern or how MWW refers to it, an ASSOCIATE. On the first day, you’re getting your bearings, learning the ropes, and then the difficult thing happens: do I stand up and leave once 6 o’clock hits? Every associate looks at each other wondering what to do. Will we be dismissed? Who will be the first one to get up? Do we have to ask to leave? You have to be bold. This also is true for many of the tasks colleagues ask you to do. No one is there holding your hand. You have to go for it, until someone corrects you. Don’t say no; try it and ask for help because it’s the only way you’ll learn.
Navigating an internship can become tricky when you’re thrown several tasks from multiple colleagues. How do you say you have other things to do first? You don’t. You quickly learn time management and how to prioritize. Thankfully, MWW Associates have mentors who help us figure these things out. Because hey, you’ve never done this before. One important thing to remember is not being afraid of making mistakes. You’ll forget some things like sending a package out on Monday when told on Friday, or jamming the copy machine when attempting to print labels, but that’s how you learn. Now I’m a pro copier and have amazing time management skills!
You would think navigating through New York is easy because it’s basically a grid system, but I beg to differ. This city has thousands of trains moving very fast in all different directions, not to mention the thousands of tourist standing still in the most inconvenient places, and New Yorkers who move a million miles an hour. Besides the trains, grasping the concept of walking everywhere is also difficult. Walk to get your groceries, walk to work, walk to Duane Reade (which isn’t a walk BECAUSE IT’S ON EVERY CORNER).
What about the time when it was difficult being an Associate AND navigating New York? It was my second week of work and someone in the office desperately needed me to run down to Grand Central Station. Of course I had heard of it before, but I didn’t know how to get there. So I was at a crossroad; not only did I have an assignment that needed to be done, but I had no idea how to get there. Just as I began to have a slight panic attack, I remembered my supervisor’s advice during an interview: you can never ask too many questions, because if you don’t ask you’ll never know. Sure, I could have looked at google maps, but it’s embarrassing having “smart mama” talk to you as you’re trying to look professional on the streets of New York. On my way out I stopped by Christina Stokes’ office and she laughed at first and then explained how to get there. She showed me a subway app (Citymapper) that would forever save my life.
At the end of the summer, all the mistakes and challenges will be nothing but funny memories and helpful tips for the future.