What Eating a Lot of Ice Cream Taught Me about Being an Intern

Posted on Sunday, Aug 05, 2018

Did you know that National Ice Cream Day was on July 15th? I didn't, until I found myself in a 30-minute line outside of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams in Washington, D.C. The wait was long, but I powered through because I LOVE ice cream and I was determined to try their crazy flavors after eating dinner nearby. Standing in that line, I had some time to reflect on my summer up until that point. My internship experience has been unique; working in development for a small nonprofit, I've had opportunities to take on responsibilities within my department that have been both challenging and so, so rewarding. I've learned more about development than I ever could have imagined, but some of those lessons were definitely learned the hard way. While patiently waiting for my scoop of Salted Caramel, I realized that maybe I could have learned some of those lessons a long time ago, before my internship started, from moments just like that one outside Jeni's. Here's a list of ways that maybe ice cream and internships aren't so different after all.
1. Try a variety of samples. I don't know about you, but whenever I go to an ice cream shop, I feel bad asking for more than one or two samples. I don't want to create an inconvenience for the people who are helping me. However, that's what they're there to do! Internships are the same way. Your supervisor is there to teach you; if you want to learn more about something, just ask. You have nothing to lose, and all the experience in the world to gain!
2. Don't bite off more than you can chew. When I tried a new gelato shop down by the D.C. Wharf one weekend, I ordered WAY more than I needed. It was good in the moment, but MAN, was I sick afterwards! The same thing can happen in an internship. Absolutely try new things, at and outside of work, but also know your limits. Nothing is worse than running yourself ragged because you put too much on your plate.
3. There are always other ice cream shops out there. If you try one shop and have a bad experience, that doesn't mean that you don't like ice cream; it just means that you don't like that shop. Come into an internship with the same attitude! Since this is a brand-new experience, you may not like everything about it. However, that doesn't mean that you don't like your organization, or your role, or your industry. It might just mean that one or multiple of those things aren't a fit for you. Stay open-minded because you always have other options in the future.
These pieces of advice would have been invaluable to me when I first moved to D.C. in May, and I hope they are helpful to you. Just remember, the world around you is full of lessons to be learned- even in things as simple as ice cream!

Hannah Fisher
Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute
Washington, D.C. | summer 2018