Thoughts from one of our excellent summer interns. A discussion of Function:, the true value of an internship experience and the difference between work and school...
A Visit to the Real World, by Clay Tinkler
This summer, the summer before my senior year in high school, I spent some time interning at Function:. Before this experience, I had yet to work a single day in a place that wasn’t for community service. If someone had told me that I would be expected to jump through flaming hoops I probably would have believed them, I was that new to the experience. Leading up to my first day was interesting as my level of nervousness and fear kept rising. There were other interns but they had already been at Function: for a while so I was going to be on a very different level than them. One of the other interns helped me get a spot and turned on the computer but then left and went back to her spot up at the front desk. I was on my own- but not really, everyone at the office would check in on me and the person I was doing the jobs and research for, Jody, kept in contact at all times and gladly answered all of my questions and yes, there were a lot of questions asked. My fears of being stuck on my own on some endless filing job were gone after day one at Function: and slowly I started exploring the differences between high school and the work place.
The first difference I noticed was people answering their phones. I had become so accustomed to phones being a forbidden fruit at school that the first time I saw someone at Function: answer their phone I was waiting on some sort of authority figure to come take the persons phone away and send them to see the principal. No one got punished for a vibrating phone and that was probably the first thing that made me realize this wasn’t the same as school.
Not only did Function: allow people to answer their phones…they did other things to enjoy themselves too. In the three weeks that I have been here we have celebrated a persons birthday and one day randomly decided to have pizza in the conference room, and everyone was invited.
The next way that Function: impacted my view of the workplace was the realization that there were no tests and grades. I got to research at Function: and this was one of the first times I truly researched a new idea without having a test about it later. I spent time studying why Function chose to specialize in one area so they could truly show their clients what works and what doesn’t. I was glad Function: was so specialized as it let me gain a quicker understanding of exactly what function can and did do for its clients.
But what truly brought around the sensation of not being in a school setting was when I got to post my first Tweet on Twitter. I wrote a few Tweet ideas down and asked Jody which would be best to post. I was nervous as I opened up the company’s Twitter account, realizing that what I Tweeted would be seen by other people and could impact how people viewed the company. I re-read what I had typed about 6 times before hitting send to make sure that nothing could be wrong. Yet of course there was a mistake, the link I had put was the wrong link. At school I might have gotten an F on a project like this, but at Function:, I got an email just telling me to post another Tweet correcting the old one. I was ecstatic. Instead of getting a bad grade I got to correct my mistake.
The differences between how I had been learning at school and how I was working at Function: really stick out to me. Perhaps schools and tests are not preparing us for what the world is really like. That’s why, I believe, internships are so important. In the short time I have been at Function: I learned quite a bit about who I am and what I can expect in my not too far off future. I’m looking forward to the real world.