Empty. I feel so empty. It’s as if there is a hole inside my soul that makes me feel uneasy; as if I am trapped in a state of unrest. Empty because something is missing…perhaps writing out what I feel will fill the gap that so suddenly appeared.
It is Monday June 30th and I got to the train station fifteen minutes early. Standing against the rail looking out towards my town with my back to the tracks, I ponder relentlessly about what to do. I have all my gym clothes with me and the gym is across the street from the train…I could easily leave the train platform, go to the 9:30 am spin class with that cheerful and optimistic instructor I like so much who teaches on Mondays, and then spend the rest of the day with my grandma who is here from South America for only another week. For some reason, that option colors in a piece of that gaping hole I feel in the middle of my chest, and brings my eyes up from a droop, to a slight droop, but it does nothing more…it does not satisfy me. Perhaps that’s because no one else is home…Sophie went to pre-college, Aram went to his center for the talented youth summer program, and Antranig is at summer camp for the day…so, what would I do with my grandma? Would I sit at home all day and just talk to her? Actually…yes. She has so much knowledge that will be gone if I never pry it out of her. But how do I do that if I get home at 9 pm every night? I can’t tell if it will make me happy to miss work and stay with her…so I begin to think about what the benefits are of going to work.
In reality, I am still a teenager, I don’t need to work, it is just something I am doing to keep me busy and also because I am intrigued by the organization I am working with. I ended up getting on the train, while reminding myself that I have an unlimited train pass, so I knew I could get right back on another train to get home when I got to Penn station…but I didn’t do that. I stayed on that train and called my mom. When I spoke to my mom on the phone, she too said she wanted to be with my grandma all day, but she couldn’t because of work. Then she said to me, “but your work is more lenient right? You can miss a day more easily than me, right?”
Those questions made me think. Of course I could miss work more easily than her! She is a doctor and I am simply an intern. But then I stopped…did that make sense? ….no. That’s not how it works Anoush! Are you listening to yourself? In that logic, can you say that because someone is a construction worker he can leave work more easily than a professor…by that logic you are claiming that one job is more important than another, and you are not valuing the work that the construction worker does…by not going to work, I am not valuing the work that I and Culture Project does.
All those thoughts brought me to question the value of my work this summer. The thoughts perfectly led me to answer the second blog question I was assigned. The question asked, “what value do you add to the organization and what value does it add to you personally, beyond gaining experience to put on a resume.” Well first of all, in this past month, I have already experienced so many new feelings and occurrences that have taught me lessons applicable in all parts of life that have no place on a resume, but rather solely exist for my improvement.
In order to answer the question of what value I add to my internship, I must first recall what my 14-year-old brother told me he read in a book. He asked, “do you know why 40% of women leave their husbands?” I called out “lack of approval” and my mom called out “lack of love.” The correct answer, my brother then revealed, was lack of appreciation. These women didn’t feel appreciated for all the work they did. Their children rarely said thank you, their husbands never displayed any signs gratefulness, and so these women left. It made sense. All people want to feel appreciated for the work they do. They want to know that someone cares and that there is validation for the hard work one puts in. It was an obvious fact, yet a meaningful one that led me to draw a parallel between the women leaving scenario and a workplace scenario.
In a workplace, one must feel that their work has value; that they are contributing in some way to the organization or corporation, otherwise, what are they there for? If a person begins to think that his work has no place or use within the company, what will be his incentive to go to work each day? One challenge for me has been to find this incentive. The work I am doing here with the two other interns is work for our growth and improvement, but not for the organization’s. We are creating three in depth proposals of possible blueprint projects for an upcoming season, however there is no guarantee (really no implementation at all) that the head of this organization will use any of the ideas we come up with. The three topics are 1) The inequality in education based on different socioeconomic statuses, 2) The injustices with crossing the border into the US, 3) The stigma against those in poverty. The project is more for us to learn how to create a proposal and present it. After our presentation, the head of this organization will choose whichever topic of the three he liked best, and we will then go on to create a documentary highlighting the main issues within the problem he chose. The documentary will not be used here at Culture Project though, and is more for our learning experience.
While this project is very exciting and I have really been enjoying researching these three topics and learning more about them, I feel this lack of value looming around my head. What am I contributing to the organization? What is my lasting mark? Do I even need to leave a lasting mark? I mean, I am only here for two and a half months…I don’t have to make such an impression.
Figuring out what the individual value is that I am receiving is easy. I am receiving this invaluable experience of being an intern at an organization that produces work I can identify with and aspire to do myself one day, and I am absorbing simple tasks that will be useful to me the rest of my life: how to conduct myself on conference calls, how to be handed a task and figure out one good question to ask instead of a million that I could have answered on my own, how to ask people to do things in a polite, non-condescending way, etc. In other words, what I gain personally is innumerable and I am very happy with the way I am learning new things each day. However, do I feel appreciated here? Is there anything that I am doing for them that will lead Culture Project to value me? I am now back to the question the prompt had asked me…what value do I add to the organization?
I think the best way to answer this question is in parts. First of all, I add value to the organization because I am one of five interns here at Culture Project who make up the first group of interns this organization has ever had. That’s great! So it’s a learning experience for both sides (interns and administration) and the way that I conduct myself will perhaps further influence the kinds of interns they hire.
Second, I add value to the organization by helping them with extra tasks that help them to be more organized. There is always more work and organization to be done, and perhaps in helping them with these small tasks, I am providing them with the ability to clear a little stress from their head, perhaps I am their daily breath of fresh air when they realize that they don’t need to do everything.
Third, I am spirited. I am the only intern who initiates conversation with the founder of the organization and I am the only one who initiates the conversation of creative ideas and different ways to go about a task or project rather than the traditional power point. Perhaps the others are thinking it, but I speak out, and as I have seen, the office is a rather quiet place, but when I do speak up, the others love to engage in conversation, so perhaps I add a bit of life to the place!
I don’t know…maybe I am just trying to come up with things here, but on the other hand, perhaps I am leaving a mark here in a way I don’t even realize.