Josh Zabin: You’re just an intern!

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guestpost / Wednesday

Today’s guest author is Josh Zabin, a friend of mine from Manila. Excited for you to learn about his summer, so let’s get into it.


Hello everyone!  I’m excited to contribute to Sid’s Summer of Learning. Sid and I met while attending middle school in Manila, and we have remained good friends since.  I am a Chinese and History Major at the University of Virginia, but this summer I am living with my family in Geneva, Switzerland as I “intern” with the U.S. Mission to the UN (more on the quotations in a second).

I am a facilities intern, so my day-to-day responsibilities include helping out my co-workers with waste management, setting up conference centers for meetings with various NGOs and other Missions, amongst other logistical matters.  This manual work is quite different from anything I’ve done in the past.  Some would call such work “menial,” but without it, the Mission could not function.

Experiences > $$$

I made a conscious decision to work in the Mission, largely because my “internship” is remunerated. In public service, most internships are unpaid gigs (@NGOs and Uncle Sam, pay your interns! These fantastic experiences are out of reach for too many people), and I wanted to save money before I spend seven months studying abroad in Tajikistan next year. I probably could have returned to Indonesia or China for language study, or spent the summer researching Iranian public policy with a grad student. Bottom line: focus on experiences, not money.

You’re just an intern!

This statement is not to degrade anyone’s work; it has helped me keep a positive attitude this summer. Most interns are not trusted to deal with consequential tasks, and that’s ok. Most college students don’t have real-world experience, yet.  Most internships exist only in the summer time, so clearly companies can get by without us. So keep doing the awesome work you are doing, and be motivated to help out wherever you can.

There’s nothing wrong with relaxation

My internship got cut from twelve to four weeks.  Had I known this might happen, I would have pursued other opportunities.  Part of me wishes I did.  Part of me is happy I didn’t.  College is the last truly time of (most of) our lives free from responsibility—savor that.  Learn a new language, travel to a new place, hike across the Alps.  As long as you are productive with free time, there’s no shame in having it.


Thanks to Josh for sharing his experiences with me and the readers! He’s one of my oldest friends and this gave me an opportunity to learn more about his summer. For tomorrow, we’ll talk about personal growth and its limitations. 

 

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