How to be an old intern.
No I don’t want to be an intern at the age of 49. I want to be so much more. I ran a nonprofit for seven years that didn’t pay much, but the kids were small and there was flexibility with my hours and raising kids so I stayed. I stayed and became utterly passionate about helping people, accomplishing the mission, and moving the organization forward.
My husband announces that he wants to retire early, move, and start a new life. Oh. So I guess my nonprofit pay isn’t going to help us get ready to do all that. Plus wait. I don’t have any retirement. I was so busy I didn’t notice the kids were getting ready to leave home. Life was preparing to make some drastic changes and I was wrapped up in the community. So now what?
On top of this we had raised our kids in small town America. Small towns don’t have the jobs and opportunity cities do. So I was stuck. Next step MBA! Let’s add on education and student loans to the mix and see if we can’t come up with a winner.
I was competing for entry level jobs with a bachelor degree and 11 years of experience with people who had master’s degrees and 14 years of experience. Opportunities were limited. How was I going to enter a new industry at this stage of the game? Internship.
Here are some ways to be an old intern.
1. Get angry on a daily basis. Yeah. We can do so much more, but they want us to update an Excel spreadsheet?
2. Learn to cope with boredom. I ran a nonprofit for seven years and got paid peanuts, but I had full reign to grow the organization which was priceless. This 9–5 gig is hum drum. I feel like crying most days, but I let that transition to anger. How did I let myself get here?
3. Start a side project. You know what? Call it what you want. Call it a midlife crisis, side hustle, side project, hobby, art, crap, a bunch of shit, or whatever makes you happy. If you want to live through the anger and boredom you better start something else. Yeah, my family does look at me like I am crazy.
4. Get used to disappointment. At the very moment in my life when I want to feel renewed passion and purpose I feel consistent disappointment. I am disappointed at the opportunities that are before me, disappointed at the decisions I made to get here, and disappointed with the life in general.
5. Don’t settle. I may not be where I want to be, but I am not going to let that stop me from getting where I want to be. I will move forward. In the mean time I have to learn to make something great out of each day, accept what I can’t change, and work hard as hell changing what I can. I can embrace every opportunity and learn from failure. I learn to accept the status quo and work hard to change it.
6. I try to see. I try to see that my plan is actually working. Of course it doesn’t go as fast as I want it to, but when has it ever. I mean it took me 29 years to make this mess I guess it’s not going to get fixed overnight. I try to see the progress that is taking place and learn to value the lessons learned during the wait. When I can’t take it anymore I freak out, drink a glass of wine, apply for a new job, and work on my side midlife crisis hobby side project thing.
Will my MBA save me? I doubt it. Will it help me move forward? Yes it already has. I wouldn’t be in this new position if it wasn’t for that. Starting a side project is something that I should have done a long time ago. It gives me purpose and provides me an outlet for my passion and energy.
My MBA is teaching me that I can do hard things. Hard things like learn economics and statistics a little later in the game. It is teaching me all the things I didn’t realize I didn’t know. It is showing me how to show up every day and put in the time and work to accomplish a big goal. It’s a painful process, but there are simply no shortcuts to getting where we want to be.