[I’m INFECTED: Life As a Virus, Inc. Intern] Infection Complete, or, The End is Where I Begin

So here we are, at update 5/5–the last needed update about my internship.  Not-coincidentally, this story is about internships ending.

Dani’s internship ended last Friday.  Technically, my co-strat intern and fellow redhead (hers more than mine, up until today anyway) was supposed to have left on Monday, but because we had a major, content-based pitch (and Dani is a whiz at content), we asked her to stay on a little bit longer, and she graciously agreed and we all got to enjoy her presence (and jokes and tendency to videotape Arra and Nike’s most hilarious moments for the internet) a bit longer.  As I was working on the deck for a major pitch myself, Dani manning the other pending deck was a huge help to me, allowing me to focus my efforts on practicing the storytelling/framework-thinking that I’d learned from my last bout.

On Friday, to celebrate her despedida, we all went to have dinner/snacks and drinks at Tipple and Slaw in the Fort.  True to Virus form, though Dani was choosing not to continue with us–her heart lay in Events–the whole BD/Strat came together to send her off as a member of the family, and the whole party was light-hearted and welcoming, with roundtable questions about our first impressions of her.  Some of the friends of our BD Executive Director (and my direct intern supervisor), André, were also at the restaurant, and he introduced them to Dani.  As it was the birthday of one of those friends, the celebration expanded exponentially, until, all in all, it was a grand and festive ending, with many photos and much of the Virus “relationship and family” vibe that I’ve mentioned in all my blogs (Dani, if you’re reading this, do come to an Open House!).

Dani’s internship ended with a bang, as befitting her bold and friendly personality.  Mine, on the other hand, appears to be ending more quietly.  Technically, my internship ended with my BAP, but I’m signed on as an intern until my June graduation date–the terms I indicated in the cover letter to my CV, all those months ago.  And truly, it feels like ages–so much has happened in the interim that the girl who stepped into the Virus HQ office feels almost like a stranger to me.  One thing between her and I remains constant though: when I first walked into our offices, I felt a sense of “I could come home to this place.”  Six months and fifteen days later, that feeling hasn’t abated.

For all the struggles and challenges and drama that I’ve faced in the past half-year–2014 hasn’t exactly been the best for my personal life, as my non-intern blogs will show–Virus has been one of my few constants, the family I’ve met here a safety net.  I won’t pretend that it’s always fun and games and light and laughter–it wouldn’t be work if there weren’t challenges and (minor) crises to face, here and there–but I have always managed to feel somewhat secure in the orange-and-green-and-cream cocoon of HQ, safe in the perennial chill of our air conditioner and even in the silence of the boardroom or pantry (where I tend to squirrel away and hide when I need to think).

From the EDM music blaring from speakers come four PM, to the laughter of the SMM team (with the constant references to TV series I don’t watch), to the come-and-go of BD as they rush from meeting to meeting (with me occasionally joining them, though less and less as I transition to full-on strat), Virus has become a comfortable routine, much like UA&P did in that first freshman semester.  I celebrated a birthday with them, and mourned a loss.  They’ve cheered on my thesis, showed support for my second rock gig (at Handlebar), and even expressed faith in the end of my perpetual singlehood.  These people are, literally, family to me in a way that no backstage of a theater has ever managed to be, in a way that–blasphemy–even my immersion in Project TALK doesn’t match.  While I won’t pretend to know all of them, and I doubt that (especially with my changing hair-color; another plunge I took with Team Virus) they know me completely as well (barring Mike’s and Rashmi’s psychic ability to empathize with my struggles), but they know enough of me, and I of them, to feel bonded.

Which is why the end of my internship, honestly, feels less like an end and more like a beginning.  With the initial infection nearing completion, the promise of “advanced stages” beckons, and I for one have never been so glad to contract a pathogen as I have been to become infused with the happy virality that is Team Virus.  I have learned so much in my scarce six-slash-seven months here: about strategy, about analytics, about client servicing and storytelling, but also about relationships, and family, and the fact that there are people who care about you without expecting anything in return other than friendship.

Most of all, I am glad for the support.  As a girl who has lived in a constant state of competition, in the fear of never being good enough, Virus’ belief in me is extremely heartening.  At Dani’s despedida, while the rest were grilling her about first impressions, Rashmi–my strat mentor–turned to me and said, “You know you don’t have anything to prove, right Frankie?”

I’m a crybaby, and I would have cried then, but it was a party and even socially inept me knows when not to cry, so I smiled instead, and Arra (who was seated next to me) voiced her agreement, along with Nike and Helen and Jovel…

And yeah, it’s a small miracle that I didn’t cry.

So this is it.  The infection is nearing the final stages of phase one.  Will there be a phase two?  I won’t give away anything yet.  All I will say is this: the end is where I begin. 😉

Here’s to more beginnings!




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