Written by Lily Covington on her experience as an intern at Cruxy&Co
When I left university and was propelled into the real world, I found myself faced with two options. One was a three-month internship with the security of a job at the end. My interviewer explained that given my background of studying philosophy, I might not feel very challenged, and they did not hold back in saying I would be responsible for clearing out cupboards, making tea and answering the phone. The second internship I was offered was for just one month, and the interview explicated the hard work that would be expected of me, how I would be thrown into the deep end, holding as much responsibility as an official employee.
Of course, I took the latter offer at CRUXY&CO.
Learning to conquer the world by making tea
The disconnect students feel upon leaving university, unless a vocational course has been studied, lies finding where your newfound skills are applicable in the real world. In previous internships, the knowledge and skills I had developed were made to feel redundant. It is understandable to me why companies would confine their interns to shadowing, filling in spread sheets, or running round London to buy some drumsticks, all of which I have spent many summers doing. We have no worldly knowledge, and only know about Nietzsche, existentialism and Spinoza.
Because of this, internships led me to feel like a burden on the people who I was shadowing. I would find an aspect of their job I found interesting, bombard them with questions, then return to my desk to sit and refresh a website for a few hours in the name of ‘research.’ My desire to work hard, and see an outcome from this was undermined. I was never given a job with a purpose, or one where I would see an end result, or have the opportunity to ever make an impact. Most importantly, I did not learn.
“For the things we have to learn before we can do, we learn by doing”
Before I reached out to CRUXY&CO, I had an interest in the world of Tech and FinTech, but I did not understand the industries at all. Intimidating as it may be to be thrust into an industry you never get taught about, the only way you can ever begin to succeed and learn is by doing. Although I had the promise of security, and knew it would be a much easier ride, this is why I rejected the prospect of emptying bins and making tea.
For most companies, this might seem like an inconvenience, having to equip inexperienced interns with real work, and offer them solicitous attention through it. But the way I have learnt at CRUXY&CO was not through being patronised, or having my hand-held throughout every project, but by having an environment created where it was ok for me to try, and most importantly fail. I was given a clear and succinct brief, then sent away to work on my own, with deadlines to meet. I received honest and constructive feedback, which for me entailed the biggest learning curve. Not only did I learn to ‘chunk’ my time, and manage my days efficiently, but I learnt so much about industries, and how a business worked, and most importantly, that this was something I loved and could apply my skills to. All of this, I learned by doing.
Most importantly, I was not made to feel like a waste of space. It is daunting to enter a businesses run by an energetic and intelligent team, and be expected to try and work at the same level. However, the culture at CRUXY&CO meant my abilities were not undermined, or prevented from developing. I was not given meaningless tasks, and there was no hierarchy, where interns are at the bottom of the pile. I was given the best support to learn, develop my skills, and do some work that seemed to make a tangible impact. I had deadlines, I was on projects that would be sent to clients, and this enabled me to adapt my skills to something applicable.
Employers, your interns are not as naive as you think
Although we are unlikely to have the real-world skills required in business, we have the adaptable skills. It is impossible to learn what is required in business by reading a book, or watching a TedTalk. This can inspire us, but the only way we can gain this insight is from doing, and being thrust into a business at 100 miles an hour. In a world of technology-led instantaneous responsiveness, a world we have been submerged in for most of our growing up, we know more than any previous generation did at our age. We have the ability to absorb information at lightning speed, so employers should not underestimate our ability to learn.
Furthermore, our desire to work hard should not be undermined. We have a reputation of ‘snowflake’ millennials – only comfortable when being fed with compliments and saying we are doing everything right, or even more, not being trusted with real responsibility. We have the reputation of expecting the world to owe us everything, without any effort being put in. Graduates are on the front-line of the battle against insecure employment and low wages. We may have been bought up to believe we can achieve anything, but those dedicated enough to apply to internships also understand the hard work that goes into achieving anything.
What have I learnt from being an intern at CRUXY&CO?
Having the opportunity to actually work for a purpose allowed me to tie the threads between my skills and how they are applicable in the real world. I have seen my ability to think holistically and critically analyse help to solve the problems I was scrutinising.
Furthermore, being given a safe place to fail has encouraged me to begin speaking up, and to gain courage in my convictions.