My time at the Friday Institute (FI) has been like no other. I don’t say this to exaggerate or use cheap words. The way I describe this opportunity to others is that being an intern at the FI will allow you to grow as much as you’re willing. It’s a place where you can try new things and have staff members who support you. It’s a place full of understanding and flexible people. They have a people first, business second model. This point in and of itself is one of the many things that separates the FI from other organizations. The staff at the FI are ACTUALLY invested in your growth. They aren’t there to just measure it and to write it in a report. Whatever resources you may need, even if that may include bringing in an expert to come in, they will provide. I wish I had known all of this before coming into the program. I was a bit intimidated working with professionals who have lots of experience and knowledge (Ph.D.s and all). I did not know if I had the capacity to perform “the job” well, at least what I perceived to be to the staff’s expectations. Yes, I had attained the position. To me, however, that only meant that I was the best choice of all the applicants. It did not mean that I could do the job well. That doubt loomed over me for the beginning part of my experience.
Looking back, I was partly right. I did not have all the necessary skills to do all the work successfully. What I didn’t take into consideration was that it’s fine if I didn’t know everything I needed. The right person for “the job” is a person who is willing to acknowledge their limitations and invest the time and effort to learn what they need to do to be successful. Why I keep putting quotations around the phrase “the job” is because being an intern at the FI, your roles and responsibilities are not predefined and set; you have the chance to work on projects that you want. If there’s a skill that you don’t know, or a skill you want to improve upon, the opportunity to gain exposure is there! “The job” is what YOU make of it. I genuinely believe a more accurate phrase would be “the job you want” because that is the reality of things. You have a say in the roles and responsibilities as an intern. If you do not have all the prerequisites to perform the job, it’s fine. The staff at the FI are there to help you. Ultimately, the FI helping you results in you producing the best work, which helps them. There were projects I went into not knowing all the essential things. That didn’t stop me. I learned what I needed to along the way. If I needed help with things that were work related or even outside the scope of work, the staff at the FI were more than willing to assist. I really cannot have asked for a better internship experience.
To all those who are interns at the FI in the future, the best piece of advice I can give is to go in with a growth mindset. Someone who’s willing to grow is a lot more effective than someone who already knows everything they need to. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions or even provide suggestions to the staff. They are actual people (believe it or not)! They have questions and need help sometimes. They are not expecting anyone to be perfect or know all things. So go in there with the willingness to learn and grow. Also, know that you’re working with some cool people too.