Gem Praise Romano
Illustration and Visual Media
Starting off my placement year felt very abrupt as I was approached by my friend whose work needed an intern to start immediately. In a span of two days, I was offered an internship and was accepted with no time for me to process what was happening. Immediately I was thrown into the world of PR and fashion with a 9 to 6 schedule with no mental preparation and time to organise everything else I needed to plan for the rest of my placement year.
As I was swept away by the world of a full time job, I realised it’s easy to become a workaholic and let your job control your life. Some days I would be tempted to bring work home with me even though I was an intern because there was never enough time in the day to finish all my tasks and I didn't want to seem incompetent by constantly finishing tasks that were due the day before.
The first lesson I learnt about having a job, is that there is a time and place for everything so you must also make time for yourself. As this was my first full time job, I learnt I needed to pace myself. Although most of my day was spent at work, the hours after were mine and I needed to spend those hours wisely or I would end up overworking myself and not giving time on what was important.
During this placement year, I'm learning so much about my time management and productivity which is basically terrible. I might have felt productive at work but as soon as I got home every evening, I would be too tired to complete personal work and tasks for my placement year like my portfolio, my CV, my website etc. I realised that this isn’t going to get any easier and working a full time job alongside other tasks isn’t always easy but that’s just life. I needed to learn how to adapt myself and be disciplined to work through my tiredness and laziness.
I went into my placement year with the goal of wanting to receive experience of working in the industry and a working environment so to have my first internship at a fashion PR company, it taught me a lot about professionalism, how to run a business which allowed me to self-reflect on my own personality and character in the work place.
Working somewhere which isn't in my field of discipline was a leap of faith because it could have either gone two ways; I could have wasted my time and learnt nothing or it would teach me lessons other places would not be able to and luckily it was the latter. University has taught me how to engage and experiment with my creativity but through my internship at Dust, I learnt the industry isn’t always like that; there is a lot of admin and client pieces that are needed to help make the ship sail before we can even get to the creative side.
As an intern I had a lot of odd jobs handed to me like picking up the newspapers in the morning, tidying showrooms when clients come in for meetings and even remembering the company card’s pin number because I would always be buying random things from printer ink to cupcakes. Doing these random jobs showed me how I needed to have the willingness to be able to do anything and everything. Growing up in church, that characteristic was already built in me so I was used to doing the ‘dirty, hard jobs’ no one wants to do but I didn’t realise that this trait would also be needed in the working environment too.
Especially as an intern, you’re the ‘filler’ body who is there to do the things the other coworkers don’t have time for and essentially having a ‘servant heart’ to 'obey' the hierarchy which I know might not sit well with other people but at the level we are at now, we need to humble ourselves and just push through this season of grinding hard because with our perseverance and hard work - eventually we can get to the top and not be bossed around anymore.
I also learnt that to be adaptable is also an important skill when working with others as people will always have different personalities and working habits so to have a harmonious team, you need to learn how to stretch yourself and be ready to bend a little even if it’s the other person’s fault.
Training and learning also takes adaptability as not everyone learns the same way. Sometimes it takes time but patience is key to teaching someone like my experience with another intern who I was training as he was taking my position as I was about to leave. When teaching him the roles of an intern in my office, I had to go a little slower than usual but it taught me to adapt to another person’s learning capabilities.
When managing a business, not only are the clients meant to be looked after but employees especially need to be looked after as well; if not, they’ll just quit and leave the company to drown. There were a few instances when my managing director unfairly told off my coworkers because they made a mistake. I understood why they would get in trouble as it would cost the company money and issues with the client but at the same time, the manager can’t expect her employees to know something they weren’t taught or trained in. To have a well, functioning business, you need a good, organised system in place so everyone would know what to do and when to do it. If there is no set way of direction, everyone would be in their own world and never be on the same page.
One of the most important lessons and which I will continue to learn is that it is difficult to find good people to work with. People can say whatever they want in an interview but when it actually comes to working, they don’t always live up to what they said. I was blessed enough to have worked with a team that didn’t argue as much but it just showed me how nothing is perfect and you can’t have everything. You may be strong in one area but weak in another. You may have this, but you’re lacking in that.
Working is hard but we can't escape it so we might as well make it work for us.