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The journey through my first internships.

by Evalyne Ndanu
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I looked around and it quickly dawned on me that I was in this job search practically alone. I knew that I didn’t have any “connections ” or rather if they were there they weren’t willing to help. This is the journey through my first internships.

Being a newbie is challenging. Mostly newbies are considered too green. They are a great deal of work. Beginners require training, meaning people have to spend time showing them how things are done at the beginning. They are in need of direction in practically all things and they are babies in the industry.

A career journey is similar to the growth cycle. You are born and are dependent on your parents for everything. Then you transition to childhood and there are things you begin doing for yourself at this stage. Until probably at 18 years, is when the adulthood phase kicks in. This is the same as with the job market. There are beginners, intermediaries and those who are advanced. These different stages come about progressively and sequentially, one after the other.

I started searching for jobs and internships before I finished my coursework. I understood that I needed that head start. First of all I sent messages to majority of my contacts and requested them to be sending me all and any job/internship openings that they would come across. I was already in several technology groups by then and there would also be advertisements or forward messages regards jobs/internships.

The reason I was in some of these groups was because I was a mentor while still doing my Undergraduate degree. From these groups and the people from my contact list who were consistent enough to send me opportunities, I began to identify some which stood out to me and would apply to them. Especially ones I thought I was qualified for. The graduate programs and Internships.

I applied to very many without giving up. I must admit there were moments of despair but I understood that I would only get tired if I got results.

There was an internship opportunity as an IT Help desk Intern in one of the accounting companies. I applied for it. I hadn’t finished school at this point,  I was in the final semester though. They gave me a call and I told them that I was waiting to do my final exam. They asked when I would finish and I gave all the details. Guess what? They said they would wait for me to finish the exams and then I could go get interviewed.

On the week that I finished my exams is the same week that I went in for an interview with them and I got the internship. It was unbelievable. Securing an internship just as I was finishing my coursework. It was a paid internship hence I had some finances to cater for a few things, it wasn’t covering all of my expenses but at least it was a start.

I worked at the IT Help desk for 2 months. I realized after some weeks that it wasn’t something I particularly enjoyed. Nonetheless I remained diligent even as I carefully analyzed my interests and disinterests in it.

One particular day, I received an email for an interview in a company that I had admired and applied to a while back. It was an internship opportunity for 3 months. I went through the interview and was successful.

Exchanging an internship for another internship. I know, sounds somewhat crazy. I was in a dilemma. At this point in my life,  time was at my disposal and I wasn’t going to settle down for something that I didn’t enjoy. That’s how against the advice of the advanced people in my life to stick to my then current company, I jumped ship. From the safety of a company that would absorb me after the internship to become a permanent employee, I choose otherwise. I wasn’t settling until I had found something that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Moving to the other company was quite a transition. The boss in the company I was in was deflated but she too had made a lot of switches when she began her career. She gave me the green light to go explore, discover and rediscover myself. I am grateful for how she handled it.

After joining the other company, I was placed in a department that I knew nothing about. Just to make it clear, in this company, internships were strictly 3 months with no extensions. Unless you identified an open position and applied to it and successfully went through its interview process. This is how much of a risk I was taking.

Initially, I thought I would be rotating through departments to get the idea of each of them but surely 3 months isn’t sufficient time for all of this. I had to manage my expectations.

In the department I was assigned to, it was different duties and responsibilities from what I was previously doing in the other company. I enjoyed the new challenge. I also realized once again that it wasn’t something I was particularly interested to pursue for the rest of my career life. Irregardless, I made the most out of it.

Before the Internship came to an end, I received yet another invite for a leadership program I had applied to earlier while I was still doing my Undergraduate. Yes, God was clearly helping me. It was a one month program. I went through the interviews and was successful. The start was to be 3 days after my then current internship end date.

I was excited to experience something else. I had applied to this particular leadership program for three times in a row. This was my third try. You can imagine the joy of finally getting it.

The leadership program was amazing. I loved the diversity . There were participants from about 14 countries in Eastern and Central Africa. I acquired skills about leadership. After this program, it was December holiday and I decided it was time to go home before I figured out my next steps.

This time round, I didn’t have any internship or job offer. It was me being in the ‘dark’ for sometime, but I understood it was necessary because I needed to think and strategize.

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”  – Steve Jobs, founder, Apple.
To be continued….

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1 comment

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