I went into my internship this summer at Team Rubicon stoked to contribute in whatever ways I could and hopefully pick up a skill or two along the way. What I didn’t realize was how much insight I would gain into what truly makes an organization extraordinary, the importance of kindness and fun being incorporated into the workplace, and how essential a company’s meaningful mission is in driving people to work hard and work together.
“How was the first week at your new internship?” asked my mom.
“It was fine, just a lot of orientation stuff and trainings. Cool learning about the mission and history though,” I said.
It was not until a couple of weeks later, once I had begun working on tasks and communicating with TR employees and volunteers, that I recognized how important these initial trainings actually were.
“Let’s get shit done,” I often heard being said around the office as employees motivated one another. “Greyshirts Always,” proud volunteers would sign off at the bottom of their emails. “We have all been working really hard; today is a change your socks day for the Membership team,” I remember waking up to on slack one morning. And most importantly, “Everyone has a role, know it” – a phrase that made working with tedious spreadsheets and receiving Op Patches with “RETURN TO SENDER” written on the envelope for the third time feel worthwhile.
While these are just a few of Team Rubicon’s cultural principles, I realized these simple undercurrents really do shape how and why everyone at TR does what they do. It took me a few weeks to recognize it, but it is the history, mission, and cultural atmosphere that makes the organization special. They are what keep each and every member of the Tribe motivated to work hard and collaborate effectively and respectfully with one another, towards the common goal of assisting others.
My experiences as a member of the Membership team, taught me the importance of being kind and having fun while still holding one another accountable.
“Is the keg automatic refilling project done yet?” I was asked by Pat on my second day, right after he discovered I am majoring in systems engineering.
The lighthearted jokes and GIFs exchanged on Slack within the team contributed to making work more fun, but they also played a big role in maintaining camaraderie. And while everyone was able to joke around with one another, everyone also knew the importance of being serious, holding each other accountable, and expecting high quality work from each other.
Most importantly, I walk away from my experience interning at TR inspired to continue striving to make the world a better place. While I don’t know exactly where my career will go next, I now know that wherever I end up, making a positive impact in the lives of others is what ultimately matters the most.