Shy? Speaking Up At Your Internship

very_shy_person_xlargeI’m a naturally shy person.

People don’t believe me when I tell them that. I can talk to anyone. That doesn’t mean I like it. A firm believer in the fake-it-till-you-make-it ideology, I can strike up a conversation with strangers about anything, despite my intense anxiety.

For the first few weeks of my internship, this anxiety did not serve me well. It took me about a month to work up the courage to go stick my head into other departments and start talking to people. Once I did, I couldn’t stop: I was constantly asking for the assignments I was really interested in, the things I was most looking forward to doing at a news station, and I was rarely turned down.

Now, as my internship is starting to wind down, I regret sitting at my desk for so long. In the height of summer here, I started to work up the courage to ask for extra assignments, the ones I really wanted, and – lo and behold, my help was both wanted and needed. I started shooting behind the scenes footage of Good Day, I was able to attend the meetings I wanted to go to, I became friendlier with the producers and cast, and even ended up going on air. None of that would have been possible if I had stuck to my desk and done my job, only my job, and nothing more than my job.

You can be certain that at least one person you work with was an intern once. You can be certain that you are not the first intern to walk through those doors. We loves to make fun of interns and act as if they do nothing but fetch coffee all day (ala The Devil Wears Prada), but that isn’t reality. Most people you will come across are going to appreciate your work.

If there’s something else you want to do: ask. You’ll be surprised how easy it is. Nobody will ever know that you are interested unless you speak up. A supervisor in another department was shocked when I mentioned editing- “I didn’t know you were interested!”- and then set me up in a booth that day.

It’s a cliché to say it, but it’s true:  the worst thing they can say is ‘no’. And if they do? You’re going to be out of there in a few months anyway and on to a new workplace that respects your talents a little bit better.

photo via sodahead