Internships provide great experiences but sometimes a lack of confidence can hold an intern back from enjoying their work. I started my journey at Spreetail as a Marketplace Intern during the Summer of 2021. Roughly seven months later, I returned to the company full-time as a Launch Support Specialist in March of 2022. I have experienced the ups and downs of gaining one’s footing and confidence in two different capacities with each position bringing its own challenges and rewards.
At the beginning of my internship, I was very unsure of my skills and felt I needed more and more training. I had the belief I was just an intern. As cheesy as it sounds, this belief partially prevented me from reaching my full potential. The mindset of being “just something” only limits us. It took over halfway through my internship for me to come to terms with my role within Spreetail. I was only an intern by name. I had the same responsibilities as other team members; except I was in a temporary position. My role included helping the company with listings that were either going live or already were live. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was trusted and given autonomy in my role without the feeling of being watched closely for error. Not only did my manager trust me, but so did the company. My actions played a direct role in customers’ experiences. Early on, knowing my impact stressed me out. I was just an intern after all; however, that wasn’t the case. I was a valued employee, the same as anyone else. By the end of my internship, I was confident in my work and understood there was no such thing as being “just.”
When I returned to Spreetail months later, I felt that idea of “just” setting in again. I’m “just” a new hire, “just” 21 years old, “just” starting my career, and the list could go on. However, we are never “just” anything. Using that word and others like it is our way of shutting ourselves down. I caught myself having that mindset and reminded myself of what I learned during my internship. Spreetail wants to see employees succeed and develop their skills. The what ifs of being “just” have returned, whether it’s current concerns or ones that may arise down the road when I try to advance within the company. My age and my short time in this role have led to many of my what-ifs recently:
What if I can’t remember everything from my internship?
This was a major concern of mine when returning to Spreetail. I was worried for no reason though. Ecommerce is constantly changing. In the months I was gone, so many things had been adapted to streamline processes. There would be more to learn even if I did remember everything. Being a new hire or switching positions means there is an opportunity to learn. Yes, your previous skills will be used, but developing new ones is even more important.
What if I’m too young or too new to start looking at a management position?
I expressed this concern to a few people including my manager who has been a major advocate for my career. She is always quick to debunk any misconceptions I have about it being too soon to discuss furthering development and growth. When I expressed interest in wanting to be in a management position at some point in my career, she simply asked me what type interested me. To me, this spoke volumes. She never acted like it was a crazy idea or belittled my interest in it. My manager was, and continues to be, open to conversations about how I can improve upon my skills and reach my goals.
What if I’m not taken seriously because of my age?
It can be hard having conversations in a work environment when you believe you’re one of the youngest members of the group. When people around me are discussing their years of experience in the field, I often clam up and tell myself I have no room to talk. No matter what generation you are in, there’s always a stereotype associated with it. I’ve noticed some people think my generation is one of laziness. There are also times I have been discredited because I am “too young to know better.” Spreetail has never made me feel this way. My team meets weekly and from the beginning my thoughts and concerns were listened to and even asked for when it came to different challenges we had encountered throughout the week. The other members of my team are helping me overcome this belief that I am too young to have a voice and to be taken seriously. My words are taken into consideration as equal as more tenured teammates.
I consistently tell myself I cannot do something due to my age, lack of experience, or any number of other excuses. Thanks to my manager, team members, and various other people in my professional and personal life, I’m starting to realize a lot of the limitations I face are due to my own mental boundaries. It’s never too soon to start developing your skills, setting goals, or even having conversations about your experiences. Each person brings a unique skillset and knowledgebase to the interactions they have. Age or lack of full-time work experience may negatively impact your confidence, but don’t let it impact your career. Preconceived notions held me back, but, as I overcome them, I find myself accomplishing more and gaining the confidence I didn’t realize I was missing.
My experiences in both my internship and current position have taught me a lot. Yes, there are people who may see certain attributes as obstacles to success or even you may see them as roadblocks; however, that shouldn't be the final deciding factor in the actions you take. Spreetail’s values can be applied to this situation in several ways, but I will leave you with just one: Pursue Challenges. When you face setbacks, take them as lessons learned and apply that new knowledge to your next step as you achieve each goal you set. For me, it’s learning to take “just” out of my vocabulary and that’s only the beginning.