The following blog is written by Kaylen Milligan, Elevate’s Spring 2019 Operations Intern. Follow along as she shares how to run toward a successful internship.
Intern to Intern
Suzy Kassum once said , “Every flower blooms at its own pace”.
I grew up running track and I always noticed different types of runners. It forever intrigued me because everyone was running in a way that was beneficial for them. When I ran, I would familiarize myself with the length of a song and I would sing it in my head. By the time I completed my race, I would be finished with that song. As I trained more and got faster, I started to sing shorter songs and increased my speed while running the same races. Learning to run at my own pace, and in my own way was something I learned to apply in my daily life. I realized how important it is to run your own race in life, especially when the current season that you’re in looks a lot different than other people around your age.
I recently joined the high capacity Elevate team as an intern, and it was revealed to me even more that you can’t try to keep up with everyone else. It’s exhausting. Let’s talk about being a runner. We’re all runners in life, but if you run at your own pace; you’ll have a lot more fun.
Running at Your Own Pace
So you made it! You’re at the starting line of your new internship. You’re about to embark on an incredible race. Here are some tips for a smooth run:
Lock in your speed
Know yourself. Lead yourself. Yes, there will be deadlines. Yes, there will be expectations. But, the biggest challenge you will face is knowing your capacity and how you work. I encourage you to figure that out quickly and lock in. Don’t look to see what everyone else is up to, and how much work they’re getting done. This doesn’t mean that you have to take it slow, but rather you need to dictate the pace that works for you and your growth.
As you learn more about how to handle yourself, you will be able to increase your speed little by little and adjust to your circumstances (or surroundings). I realized that I’m the most efficient when I’m working in a space by myself. That makes sense, because I would never run a race with my best friend next to me. LOL. But above all else, keep your eyes forward. Your speed is about how fast YOU can work, not everyone else. Runners who lose their focus fall. Pace Set. Eyes Up. Focus.
Refuel along the way
Take a second to breathe. Figure out how you refuel and lean into those methods. Refueling is crucial to your success through this internship because there will be times when you will have a full calendar, or you’ll have a lot of projects; but remember to breathe. Be strategic on learning how and when you need to refuel.
I learned that I refuel by writing down my thoughts when I feel myself drifting, or running into the wrong lane. (When a runner goes into another lane, they’re automatically disqualified.) Learning this method allowed for me to be able to figure out what’s going on and come up with an action plan to push through. While refueling might slow you down in the short term, it has serious long-term benefits. It allows you to maintain a pace and stay the course. Remember to pick your head up and realize that you’re still in this, you still have value to add to others, and you still have a finish line to get to.
Find your supporters in the crowd
Your team is your biggest support system. Just like a runner, you will have people in your respective department who will be actively working towards the same goals as you. They understand potential challenges that you might face, and they can be a helping hand if you feel overwhelmed, or need a little bit of encouragement when you want to stop going. For runners, they may have days where they just aren’t feeling it. They don’t want to train or feel fatigued. However, they’re aware that they have to communicate that.
If you’re having a rough day or maybe something’s on your mind; tell your direct leader. They are here for you. I’ve walked away from many conversations with my leader, Katie Bersinger, feeling so encouraged and motivated because I was honest with her about my feelings. Reminder: Your team is FOR YOU. They can be in the crowd cheering you on or offering you a cold rag for after the race (or long day). Whatever you need, listen to their voices. They want you to succeed.
It’s not about the medal
You may not be recognized for all the hard work you do during your internship. But truth be told, no one ever is. Keep working hard, keep asking questions, and keep serving others. Getting a medal or getting acknowledged for your work isn’t something that you need to try and force. I instantly received a reality check when I was working so hard to get acknowledgment that never came. It often frustrated me. Billy Boughey, Elevate’s Founder and President, always reminds the team to keep our motives pure. He encourages us to have a heart check if we need one.
It took me looking at myself in the mirror and asking: “Are you doing this for the right reasons?” If the answer was ‘no’, then I changed my ways. I started to affirm myself with the work I put in and I was able to rest in a more confident mindset. Luke Lezon once said “If you live for their applause, you’ll die when they boo”. Your internship may be temporary, but the value you add to yourself and others is long-lasting. Remember, acknowledgments and affirmations shouldn’t be the reason you do good work. Your drive to work hard should be because you believe in the organization and the people. You’ll never be fully satisfied if the basis of your goals is only acknowledgement. You already have a medal. It’s your unique skills that you bring to the table. Wear it proudly.
Find your speed, listen for your supporters, and move forward.
And remember… BREATHE. I’ll be cheering for you the whole way.
Kaylen Milligan, Spring 2019 Operations Intern