PHS PERSPECTIVE: Summer internship provided more than money

By Taran Krishnan
Boarding the, as usual, late train to New York Penn Station, my sunny disposition seemed out of place among the sombre faces of my fellow commuters. As a high schooler, an internship was the closest I had ever been to working at a desk job and well, the fact that I got to wear a suit and tie into the city provided all the motivation needed to wake up at 5 a.m.
I had heard about the commute to the city and how, at times, it could be physically draining. I took these stories with a grain of salt at first, but as my time in the city continued I realized how hectic working could be.
I’m not alone. Almost every one of my fellow students have taken up work in some form or another. From volunteering in third-world countries, to being published in scientific papers, it seems that, for three months, 17 year olds run the world. The incentive to work is probably rooted in the need to buy a new pair of sunglasses or to add to that ever-growing new car fund, but maybe, in a warm feelings kind of way,high schoolers enjoy the work they do.
In school, we are constantly prepared to become responsible adults. For example, we are required to take a financial literacy course, in the hopes that when we go out into the world, we do not commit tax fraud, albeit, by mistake.
The problem is, we learn these skills in an environment where we can’t apply them directly. A job of any type can push you out of your comfort zone and force you to rely on the skills or techniques you learned at school. I’m not saying that everyone uses calculus at their job, but school and what we learn there is so much more than just classes.
How to interact, be polite, negotiate and argue with strangers are all learned in the closed halls of high school and among the people we feel the most comfortablewith. It seems, we learn how to deal with the least comfortable situations, such as explaining to a customer that you made a mistake or having to work with a total stranger in our most comfortable place — school.
A summer job or work experience before graduating is so important because it gives us a glimpse into what a full-time job is like. I used to take for granted meeting friends on a weekday after school, but now I realize the twisted and complicated process of trying to navigate everyone’s schedule.
No longer do I look at my parents quizzically when they say they would rather stay home than go out after they come home from work as I can relate to theirexhaustion. The weekend has a whole new meaning now and most importantly, I can begin to see myself working in the city when I’m older. Just as everyone went on college visits, scoping out the campus to see if they’d feel comfortable at that university, students should try working in the field they want to focus on.
The responsibility that we, as new workers, are given is refreshing. We’ve been left in charge of kids, money, confidential corporate reports, and of course ourselves. As an intern working with a nonprofit organization promoting financial literacy, my days were filled with mundane spreadsheets and hours of typing, but what I liked most about my time working was that I was free to do as I please. I could sit down and do the work I had set out to do or I could take breaks, go on Buzzfeed and maybe check out Central Park in the hopes of running into theFacebook photographer Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York.
Nothing was held over my head — no one would call my parents or give me detention if I slacked off. Instead of fulfilling my dream to be Internet famous by appearing on HONY, I sat down and completed my work, because I wanted to and wasn’t forced — I actually liked my job.
This newfound insight into what it’s like to be an adult has excited me even more than being able to wear a suit into the city or no longer having to butter up my parents when I need money. Everyone gets something out of their time working other than money, such as new friends, experiences, skills, or like me, satisfaction.
The work I do at my internship most certainly won’t change the world, but it’s changing my world and that’s why I continue to smile as the train comes to an abrupt halt due to delays.
Taran Krishnan is a rising senior at Princeton High School. 