When I made my summer plans in March, it felt like a recipe for the perfect summer. I would live with my grandparents in San Francisco while interning with a small organization that worked with local playwrights. Amazing city? Check. A job involving writing? Check. Independence without being completely on my own? Check. I was offered the internship and accepted it immediately. What could possibly go wrong?! … Right?
Well, no. Not right.
A month before my flight, I realized what I had signed myself up for and it was a lot.
The internship by itself was enough to stress over. I had only ever worked in food service jobs—what made me at all qualified to work in a professional office? And didn’t I kind of… hate theatre? I definitely remembered swearing off theatre the second I graduated from high school. So where did I get the idea to do my first meaningful summer job with a theatre company?
And the million-dollar question: Why on Earth did I think my first meaningful summer job should take place 2,000 miles away in a city I barely knew?
Leading up to my summer in San Francisco, I got so bogged down in everything that could go wrong that I didn’t even think about what could possibly go right. Unsurprisingly, I ended up going into my very first internship with a horrible attitude. I did not want to be there at all. Every single part of me was terrified and uncomfortable and I was furious with my past self for making this decision.
I started off the summer at the theatre organization doing social media. My boss would assign me a task and then give me minimal instructions or information. It felt like the content I was producing was disappointing. After a couple weeks, when the organization started gearing up for their annual play reading festival, I became a production assistant for one of the readings. I had a million and one things to do at all times and even though everything I did was incredibly important for the outcome of the reading, it all went unnoticed. I felt like the director wished I just wasn’t there, like I was in his way or something.
Then, one day, the first day off I had in too long, I went for a walk up Twin Peaks, one of the tallest hills in San Francisco.
I looked out over the unbelievably breathtaking view of the Bay Area and realized that I was looking at my internship and my summer all wrong.
My boss wasn’t giving me instructions or closely monitoring my content because he knew that I was capable of working independently. I had so many things to do as a production assistant, but I also got to listen to a group of incredibly talented actors read the most beautifully written and inspiring scripts. Each reading was better than the last, partly in thanks to my small contributions. And the director? I realized that I was the liaison between the reading and the organization itself. Actually, I was the one with the advantage in some ways. I was practically running rehearsals every night and I held all the information about the festival. They needed me. I wasn’t in the way; I was leading the way.
There I was, looking out over the most beautiful city, and I finally saw how lucky I was.
I was getting professional experience that most students would kill for. I got to watch brilliant adults work unbelievably hard at what they love and occasionally even ask me (me!) for input. Not to mention, I was living rent-free with my incredible grandparents.
I realized that it had been a recipe for the perfect summer after all. But just because I had all the ingredients didn’t mean that I could have my cake and eat it too—at least not right away. I had to put the work in and make the best out of every moment. I had to take advantage of what I had and aim for the output I deserved. Looking back now, I can say that it was easily the best summer of my life. Not in spite of all the crazy ups and downs, but because of them.