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?!?)
In 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.