Being an intern is not about being perfect — it’s about accepting that you’re not perfect.
By Annise Montplaisir, spring 2015 AQHA intern
The other day, it dawned on me that I have less than a month left as the online communications and publications intern for the American Quarter Horse Association.
Wow. Time flies. And what a time it has been.
Before moving to the AQHA international headquarters in Amarillo, there was a lot of what-ifs running through my head. What if I get homesick? What if I can’t handle my work load? What if I don’t make any friends? What if I’m terrible at my new job?
My amazing mom turned into my personal venting soundboard. She listened patiently to each and every one of my rants, and always seemed to know the right things to say.
“Annise, if they didn’t think you were capable of doing a great job, they wouldn’t have hired you,” she said. “Besides, they understand you’re not going to be perfect because you’re still learning. That’s what internships are for.”
Even though I understood this was meant to be a learning experience, I was determined to be the super-intern. I would make a great impression on the first day, learn my duties at lightning speed and work like a horse (pun intended).
Well, life has a way of humbling a person. On Day 1 of my internship, I rode to work with Publications Editor in Chief Becky Newell, from whom I rent a room. I was dressed to the nines and had everything I needed for my first day (or so I thought). As I sat in the orientation room, it dawned on me that I had forgotten my Social Security card at home – in Minnesota. A quick call to my parents, and it was sent on its way through the mail. Phew!
The orientation continued smoothly… until I reached into my purse to grab my checkbook. My stomach dropped and all the color drained from my body as I realized I had left it in the car – a car that I didn’t have keys to unlock. The mortification I felt as I excused myself from the room can’t even be described. I called Becky, and thankfully she was free to come give me the keys. Finally seated back in the orientation room with my checkbook in hand, I resisted the urge to hyperventilate and proceeded to fill out my account information.
And just when you’d think it couldn’t get any worse, it did. Embarrassed as I am to admit it, I had never owned a checkbook before moving to Amarillo, so I had no idea what the numbers on my checks meant. Account number? They might as well have just asked me to write in Latin. So I swallowed my pride and asked which series of numbers on my check denoted my account number.
My first day was … rough. But embarrassed as I was, not a single person got upset with me that day. Everyone remained patient and kind, teaching me what I needed to know and helping me settle into my new position. We’re not born knowing everything, and that’s why internships are such fantastic opportunities. You’re surrounded by caring, compassionate people who were once in your shoes. They want to see you succeed, and they’re willing to help you get there.
During the next few months, there were other embarrassing moments. Like the time I met someone new in the restroom and was about to shake her hand after just squirting soap on my hands. Or the test email I sent to myself saying “Hola” that ended up going to someone else. And there’s the time I posted about 10 things at once on the AQHA Pinterest account, and accidentally sent them all to Twitter as well.
Was I ever perfect throughout my internship? Nope. Did I mess up a few times? Yep. Did I learn? Definitely!
In fact, one of the most valuable lessons I learned was to laugh at myself. My first day on the job might have been totally cringe-worthy, but you can’t live in fear of messing up. To put the situation in perspective, I’d like to use a few Texas-isms I’ve acquired:
Oh, dadgummit, I was a mess. But bless my little heart, I’ll be a better person in the future because of it!