When I was learning to ride a bike, I spent countless hours on training wheels, antagonizing my dad to teach me the trick to two wheels that I just wasn’t picking up on. Somehow, I even upgraded to only needing one training wheel—don’t ask—but still couldn’t master the two wheels for the life of me.
My dad would push me, guide me, and eventually let go, and I would always end up falling down. It was infuriating. One day after another session of trial and error, my dad went inside for a break. It was just my bike and me. Of course that’s the moment I finally rode by myself, with no one looking.
I interned at Sanger & Eby in the summer of 2012 and it was an amazing learning experience. I must have made an okay impression because I was offered an associate position when I graduated this past December.
It’s an odd sensation coming back to a familiar place after being away. But as much as I’ve changed (or not), it seemed Sanger & Eby had done the same.
There were familiar faces, but there were also many new faces. Even the work we were doing, while staying in the realm of design, programming, and strategy, had evolved. The biggest change, however, is the simple change of title, and its associated responsibilities. Sanger & Eby teaches interns whenever plausible … but at the end of the day, an intern is inherently at the bottom of the totem pole. With little power comes little responsibility.
Transitioning from intern to associate means taking responsibility: client expectations, deadlines, budgets, healthcare coverage, 401(k), finally figuring out what a 401(k) is. All of these things are now on my plate, and I have it so easy compared to every other “adult” I know. Responsibility is only going to increase as I keep learning and growing.
I’m not going to be thrown to the wolves, but it’s time to prove my competence to the team, the clients, and most importantly, myself. It’s also a time to find self-confidence. If you don’t believe you’re creating your best work, why should anyone else believe in you?
When I was learning to ride my bike, I‘d never fallen more in my life. I’d also never gotten back up more in my life. As an intern, I was on training wheels. I’ve had the guidance and I’ve been pushed. Now it’s time to ride by myself, give or take a few falls.