A Place of Yes

As an intern, I have always tried to come from “A place of yes”. Yes I can stay late, yes I can get you a 300-word blog post by the end of the day, Yes I can take on some extra fact-checking work, Yes I can visit a tiny house convention over the weekend.(even though I have no idea what that is?!?)

YesNoIn my opinion, this is a great skill to have because it shows you are up for anything and really willing to go the extra mile. Especially during an internship, being on your A game 110% of the time, is important.

However during my internship I had to learn to say no. I was recently asked if I wanted to do an assignment for a sister publication. Immediately I said yes-I was eager to do some more writing and get published. However as my boss was explaining the details to me, I started realizing that I said yes out of “intern obligation”.

Because of a recent transition of interns, that week I was doing extra of fact checking, had interviews set up with multiple different people, writing a blog post, calling 20 Mexican restaurants for a top-secret taste test, and working on an assignment where I had to reach out to global companies to fact check exact numbers and statistics on their sales. Simplified, I had a lot on my plate and was stressed.

After I agreed and said yes, on my walk home I started to freak out a little and start to panic. There was no way I could do all what I need to do perfectly. Also, I realized that it was a piece that would not help my portfolio-it wasn’t in my area of expertise or something I was interested in. Frankly I really was just trying to be the “best intern possible” without truly considering myself.

So I walked back and explained the situation to my boss. Ultimately it was the right decision for me. Sometimes, it is okay to say no.

Rachel Davidson

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5 Responses to A Place of Yes

  1. It is very difficult to learn how to politely say no. While you may not want to let your boss down by saying no you could actually be helping yourself (and your boss in return) by saying no. Thank you for your insight!

  2. kalimungovan says:

    I have found myself saying ‘yes’ to every project and assignment my boss throws my way and while it is great experience to learn how to do a variety of things, it can get stressful at times. I agree, learning to say no is difficult but it may be necessary when you begin to feel overwhelmed. As an intern I want to prove to my boss that I can handle whatever he throws my way but I need to know that he will understand if I have to say no once and a while. We may be interns, but we’re still human. Thanks for the post!

  3. jlandre2014 says:

    I struggled with this as well. As an intern, you feel like you’re in a position where “no” sounds awful to your employer. When in reality, a supervisor would probably prefer that you’re honest in how much work you can handle, because ultimately he/she wants quality work. Saying no is perfectly okay — there is no reason to work ourselves to death!

  4. joefschr says:

    Like everyone else I ran into this as well. The first time I said yes and realized I might have jumped the gun on it, so the next time I was asked to do something and was caught off guard, I told my employer “For sure! Let me check a couple things and then can I get back to you?” Luckily, my employer said that was fine, but even if they say no, you still bought yourself a couple of seconds to think it over. Another thing we can take away from this is always know what your workload is like. Come in to the day know what you have to do and whether or not you can take on any extra tasks.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story, Rachel. As interns, this is something we all must learn entering the workforce. We all want to be the best inters — take on every project, please our employers and add to our portfolios — but the fact is that we are also human, and not everything can be done. Great job on reconsidering whether you should say no to things you cannot add to your plate!

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