Adjusting Expectations

View from Reception

As my second week with the Alliance for Justice comes to a close, I’m reflecting on the different types of work I’ve done so far and how they match my expectations of what my daily responsibilities would entail. Part of what drew me to this position in the first place was the lack of a rigorous set of daily tasks; I found the breadth of things I would be doing appealing, and still do, but I naively forgot about those times when you just have to take your medicine and do your share of tedious intern work, whether that be making copies, answering phones, or cleaning up large data sets in Excel. For whatever reason, I spent almost none of my first week doing tasks like these, and this gave me the false impression that I wouldn’t be doing them at all, but they proved to take up the majority of my second week. Whereas last week was spent reaching out to prospective prize donors, marketing an event, and attending an annual luncheon, this week has proved slightly less engaging. So far as I can tell, this will by no means be the norm, and I look forward to reengaging with more intellectually taxing work in the weeks to come. Just today I was given a research assignment on state Supreme Courts and the different ways that they are chosen and regulated, so I’m excited to continue working on that and other projects.

In many ways I think this second week has been a healthy reality check on the fact that I don’t have a lot of decision making authority at this stage in my career, but this has afforded me some useful perspective, because it is the opposite of what I am used to in terms of my on-campus activities. The professional world is not extracurricular, and it has taken me a few days top adjust from running meetings to quietly attending them with a notebook. I think it can be easy to feel trapped in time-consuming tasks that don’t play to your strengths when you feel like you could be of more use in a different capacity, even if the reality is that older and more experienced colleagues are the ones best suited to the higher level work that needs to be done. I sometimes feel like I can be of most use in my capacity as a reader/writer, because I’m not very good at managing/organizing data, but as the low man on the totem pole I’ve accepted that, at least for now, I’m the guy for that job when it needs to be done.

One thought on “Adjusting Expectations

  • July 23, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    Really thoughtful reflection about expectations and the inevitable (e.g. needing to so some less glamorous, tedious tasks in any internship – or job for that matter). I’m glad the internship started off on a high though and that you had the opportunity to play to your strengths early on. As such an engaged student on campus who has had the opportunity to participate in some really significant committees, initiatives, etc. – I am sure it is difficult to recalibrate. It sounds like the research project will be interesting; I look forward to hearing more about your progress. Again, you’ve tacitly touched on some of the items listed in the prompt for ‘personal contributions’ – may want to think more (and more explicitly) about some of the others.

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