There are a lot of ways an intern can mess things up. For starters, you could get your boss’s lunch order wrong, or show up late on your first day. You could pick up the wrong sample or accidentally publish something before it’s ready. The list goes on and on. But none of these surpass the biggest mistake that interns make everywhere, at every age: comparing themselves to other interns.
With so many influencers telling us that the best thing you can do at your internship—the thing that will land you a job—is stand out, it’s completely natural that we feel an impulse to size up our competition. This includes the crop of interns you’re working with and the other hopefuls that are about your age and pursuing a similar career path. But it’s far too easy to go from valuable competition to obsessive pressure.
You worry about working fewer days than your co-intern, or interning at a no-name brand while your classmate is over at Teen Vogue. You see someone else’s personal blog and think “crap, she’s so much more talented and creative than I am.” Or, you skim through her LinkedIn page and are overwhelmed with regret when you realize she started interning before college and you only just got started. So stop right there, because you’re headed down the wrong path.
When you let yourself feel inferior to someone else’s resume, blog, Tumblr page or Instagram profile, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. Not only are you knocking your own confidence, but you’re more than likely going to feel like you need to do everything she does, the same internships, the same resume format, etc. You might think “well, her resume is SO much better than mine so there’s NO way I could land the same internship as her,” and that’s simply not true. Everyone has to carve their own path, and no two success stories are alike. Who has ever been recognized for being JUST like someone else? (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson excluded, of course)
You can land the same internship if you’re just as enthusiastic about trying hard and doing a great job. And hey, everyone has to start somewhere, so that no-name brand internship is just as important to your path as her first internship was to hers. If you want to take inspiration from her, fine. But don’t worry about what she’s doing and focus on yourself. Show up everyday with a smile on your face and you’ll stand out, no worries.
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