The Summer Intern

So I am an engineer in a very standardized and bureaucratic industry, this is not a knock on the industry but a necessity. The industry is some times tough to break into for new engineers  without previous experience and that can mean less fresh ideas and less fighters for change. However, every summer we get these fresh minded and eager new, generally temporary, employees we call the interns. The interns come in wanting to be Tony Stark, Nicola Tesla, or Elon Musk but soon realize that in order to get paid you have to do actual work to ensure the company meets revenue goals.

This summer I have worked very closely with a few amazing interns and fresh new hires. These people pretty much say yes to everything, why you ask, because that’s what you do when you aren’t on the official payroll yet! These interns could immediately step in and out-perform some of the experienced engineers with ease (and in many cases this includes myself). See what changes after 5-10-15 years of experience is that you become formed into your role, you do not get excited as easily as you once did. The change in attitude from intern to experienced professional obviously differs from person to person but is typically a less excited version of your former self (like when you hear a great song then you listen to it over and over until finally it’s playing but you don’t remember hearing it play). Jealousy is my best description for my feeling toward these starry eyed newbies.

The interns are willing and eager to perform at a high level no matter the task, I like to believe I am that way for most of the time. I certainly miss the days where things were so new, so interesting, so refreshing. One thing keeps me going through stressful times at work, teaching/training/mentoring.

I have had the pleasure to be able to train these upcoming titans of industry, and have had a great time doing so. Not only do I get to train them on the obvious job structure, tasks, procedures, and standards but I get to share experiences with my career. I am able to share failures and successes and put a funny spin on everyday monotony. The fact that the interns and new hires continue to come back to me asking for advice, asking questions, and  sharing accomplishments is enough to make my day that much better.

Overall I have been extremely impressed by our interns and new hires of recent. I hope that they question everything and blindly accept nothing. Rules are made to be broken or at least challenged until someone gives you a good reason why it is the way it is. These newborns of the workforce are bright and can resist conformance if and only if they maintain the mantra of “Why?”.

Do not conform. Do not be a yes man/woman. Do not resist your temptation to stress the status quo!

-Matt

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