Two Mistakes I Made that You Should Avoid

Posted on Monday, Nov 06, 2017

  1. I pushed myself too hard
When I first started this internship, being perfectionist I wanted to be the best intern that ever worked in this organization, certainly better than, or at least as good as, the former one. Such high aspiration can be a source of positive motivation when things go well, that is, when you feel confident at what you are doing and you are doing it well and others at your organization can also see it. However, when things go not as well, that is, when work is harder than you expected or you feel incompetent at what you’re doing no matter how hard you try, then such aspiration can turn into a crushing burden ever pushing you to work harder, only in a wrong direction. You don’t know what you’re doing but you know you’re trying as hard as you can and hope it will all work out in the end. That’s what I did for the first month of internship, working and working, but with not much visible progress in the end. You feel incompetent and miserable at your work. But don’t forget this one crucial truth: you are an intern. So it’s okay if you are not as good in your work as the other staffs. You’re an intern, not a pro. You’re here to learn, not perform at professional level. Also realize that is exactly the expectation of you too by the organization. To be honest, they don’t expect much from you. They know you don’t have much experience or competency in this field yet. So relax and just try to enjoy the work (while doing as hard as you can at the same time). Ask questions when you feel stuck or not sure if you’re heading into the right direction. Of course, if you can perform at the pro level, good for you. But if you can’t, that’s okay. That’s exactly why you’re here—to learn and make mistakes, and learn from them.
  1. I didn’t socialize much
Also, don’t forget to socialize. Yes, that sounds obvious, but sometimes you can forget the obvious like I did. When I first got here, I had LSAT coming up in three weeks, so I prioritized studying for that test over going out with others. I told myself and others that once the LSAT is over I will go out more. But even when it was over, I still didn’t hang out with others, saying either I was too tired or I had to work on my law school application, etc. In the end, I realized I wasn’t socializing not because I was busy with other work, but because I was lazy. Being introvert myself, I indulged in being in a quiet room by myself. I told myself that if you don’t want to go out, then you shouldn’t have to. Socialize only if that’s what you want. But I realized after one month of being a recluse that it may never change or do so only towards the end of your stay here in DC, by which point you will already have missed numerous precious opportunities, to explore the capital and make great friends, because of your laziness and self-complacency. Even if you feel like staying, force yourself out. That’s exactly what I‘m gonna do for the next two months left. No more missing out. 

Philip Cho
Bread for the World
Washington, D.C. | fall 2017