[I’m INFECTED: Life As A Virus, Inc. Intern] The long overdue update

So apparently I owe four of these status reports to my school.  I knew I was behind, but four?

Wow.  Okay.

Where do I start?

When I last updated, I’d already spent a full month at Virus.  At the moment, I’m going on month three, which is when my official evaluation will fall due.  I’m a bit nervous about those–they’ll be my first professional evaluations, and to be honest I still haven’t completely shaken off the feeling that I’m really still a kid playing the role of a professional.  Just last week, André asked what I’d like on my business card and I replied with a look that can only be described as “deer in headlights.”

Me?  Business card?

To be fair, though, I’m beginning to learn the ins and outs of corporate etiquette.  Used to be, when I sent an email reply to a client or even to an internal thread, I felt compelled to read it over three or four times, then have it checked by one of my supervisors (usually Rashmi), absolutely terrified that I would say something wrong somewhere.  Nowadays, I tend not to overthink replies as much, especially as I’ve gotten used to the constant flow of electronic mail.  Even CCing has become second nature, with the occasional slip.

Another thing that two-going-on-three months at Virus has cured me of?  Saying sorry all the time.  Whether I was requesting for a quick meeting or having a deck checked or simply asking a question–something that interns are, by nature, expected to do–the first word out of my mouth used to be “Sorry” in a tiny, nonthreatening voice that was lightyears away from my actual one.  Eventually, Mike and André picked up on my habit and started calling me on it, largely because there was nothing I was actually doing to be sorry for, and while I still slip up (old habits die hard), I’m learning to make requests with more confidence.

Speaking of old habits, some haven’t died.  I still, more often than not, tote around a notebook or my laptop to every single meeting, taking down comprehensive notes to the point that I’ve become a sort of de facto minutes-recorder.  I’ve gotten used to the reality that there will always be new things to learn in this field, because the internet is ever changing.  There are times I’ve felt frustrated, because my ideas don’t seem as new or different, or else do not come fast enough as, say, Rashmi’s, who can sometimes align strategy to execution so fast it appears almost second nature, which by now it probably is. Even content planning–the creation of the weekly line-up of social media posts–is harder than I ever thought it could be.  I once was asked to prepare one for a special campaign, and found myself racking my brain for two days just figure out what to post on Facebook.

Facebook.  Where I am notoriously the most frequent updater of all my friends.

I’ve learned just how much work goes into something as simple as the maintenance of a Facebook page, and with this I have greater respect for all the brand community managers that do it so well.  Every page has its own persona, and figuring out what a brand might say on social media can sometimes feel like reading the mind of a person who doesn’t really exist, befriending people you will never really know…but somehow also know.

It can sometimes feel very, very surreal.  But then again, my Virus life is sort-of surreal.  The reality is that I am still a student, and yet I am actually working.  A few weeks into my second month, Rashmi brought up that “We don’t let just anyone do pitch decks.”  Or pitch, for that matter.  Just a few days ago I was asked to present almost the entire proposal to a client, the second time I’ve done so.  And while a few people may say “Big deal, you’ve done marketing pitches for school,” the reality is that this is different–the stakes are higher, the ideas real.  To be thought good enough to be, in a sense, one of the faces of Virus, the representative of all the braincells that went into each execution, is both encouraging and daunting.  It’s a challenge, a daily one, to be as good enough as the people here seem to see me as being.  I’d be lying if I said I was never scared.

But I’m learning that the working world–that the real world–is an exercise in using fear, rather than letting it control you.

I guess my intern life is a little bit like an extreme sport.  The fear is the point, because it’s a premium rush.  The adrenaline, the pressure-cooker of ideation-creation-presentation-execution, is all part of the appeal.

Is this extreme sport for me?  Only time will tell.  But, to be very honest, I’m definitely hoping the odds are in my favor.  Fingers crossed! 😀

Stay tuned for the other three overdue reports!



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