It was 1999. I was 19 years old. Fresh out of college with an Advertising diploma, I was ready to take the world by storm. At least, in my heart that’s what I wanted.
I recall the first day of my internship. I was so nervous. In fact, the only reason I even had this internship was because one of the professors had connected me with an industry peer that had an opening. Looking back, I’m sure that if the job was to restock the beer fridge I would have happily accepted.
I entered the coolest office I had ever seen, an old warehouse-conversion located in downtown Toronto. There was a palpable energy that pulsed throughout the walls. Lots of jargon, ego, and seasoned industry veterans buzzing around and getting sh#t done. I was so out of my element.
You know the ad world – it’s intense! Deadlines come fast and fierce. There are many egos to navigate and jargon to learn. I was given the job of researching websites of the competition for my assigned account.
I remember sitting down at my desk and digging in. The only problem was, I didn’t really know what kind of information they wanted to know and what would be helpful. Instead of asking my supervisor, I decided that ‘looking busy’ was the strategy that would serve me best. I printed off hundreds of pages that were essentially useless. Day after day, I would sit down and get to work on…nothing important (or helpful).
My second strategy was to make friends with the lovely receptionist. She was awesome and, when I needed to figure out how to get an outside line on the phone or where to get some basic office supplies, she was my secret weapon!
I also had an intern buddy there at the same time. He was great. We would get lunch together and chat about our school programs, etc. However, as the weeks went by, I started to see that he was chatting with the strategy team more. Asking questions, sharing his ideas, making jokes. Suddenly, he had crossed the threshold! He was invited into the client meeting. I was left sitting at my desk.
Looking back, there are only two things that I’m sure of about my time there:.
First, I had no idea what I was doing and I’m 100% confident that everyone there knew it.
Second, I never had the courage to ask (anything). I didn’t ask for clarification. I didn’t ask for mentorship. I didn’t even ask how to get an ‘outside line’ when trying to make a call. I went to my desk every day. I quietly did some work and I went home. I got nothing out of the experience and I gave nothing to them.
I spent 31 days there. And at the end of day 31 I said, ‘thanks for having me’ and I went on my merry (unemployed) way.
The thing(s) I don’t want you to know:
The ‘firsts’ of new things still make me feel anxious – usually, it’s the most trivial things.
When I started golfing, I hated to call to book a tee time. I felt like I would be ‘found out’ for not belonging.
It still takes a big helping of courage for me to enter new situations.
The Guidance of My Inner Mentor:
✤ No one will advocate for you like you. Without a voice, you get the internship (job, raise, timeslot) that shows up, not the one you dream about.
✤ It’s okay to not know things. It’s also okay to ask.
✤ Jump in. Don’t sit on the sidelines waiting for someone to ask you to participate! Have a voice and make yourself visible.
Before becoming a business coach, Jenn established and led a thriving marketing agency – a time filled with challenges, yet great fulfillment. By personally experiencing the highs and lows of business ownership while balancing a family, she gained invaluable insight into overcoming difficulties and achieving goals.
After 13 years, she realized she was ready to expand as an individual and business owner and wanted to assist other female entrepreneurs to do the same. Leaving an established business and embarking on a new path took every ounce of bravery she had, and became one of her greatest accomplishments.