One good thing about starting an internship when you move to a new city is that the other interns are new, too. That means everyone is looking for someone to be his or her buddy or even long-term friend. On the other hand, when you’re just the new person at the office, the regulars are interested in you, but not in the same let's-be-best-friends kind of way.
At my Denver internship, some of my colleagues are my age and some are a year younger, but everyone is nice, and everyone is looking to make friends. I started a week after the others, though, so I felt a little behind. By the time I got there, some people had already started to form bonds.
Monday: “Kelsey, Do You Want to Come?”
My friends often describe me as awkward. I’d like to think it’s endearing, but I admit that’s not always the case. I knew going into the office that I was going to have to start up conversations and ask people to lunch. That doesn't sound that scary in theory, but it’s scary when you are awkward and things could go very wrong.
Luckily, I didn't have to make the first move this time. I overheard my neighbors talking about lunch, and instead of taking the opportunity to jump in and ask if I could join, I acted like I couldn't hear. My eyes were on my computer screen, when they asked me if I wanted to join. I responded with a relieved "yes,” using my foot to lightly push my sandwich fully in my purse so they couldn't see it. A little lesson to learn from this: If you’re comfortable extending a "Want to come?" to the new person, trust me—the newbie wants to.
Wednesday: Friends on the Floor
My roommate Allegra and I have now run into the same girl a few times at the elevator, and we noticed her at the Michigan State bar during football games. When we finally talked with her, we all realized we went to school together and have a mutual friend in Denver.
The girl texted Allegra on Wednesday night to see if she and her roommate could borrow some movies. Allegra, of course, said yes, so our new neighbor and her roommate came over. Soon we were all chatting it up and walking over to their apartment to see the differences in apartment style. Movies were exchanged, and happy hours and wine nights were planned. Allegra and I skipped down the hall gleeful with excitement for our new "floormates."
Thursday: Happy Hour
At my last internship, I didn't jump at the idea of hanging out with my fellow interns, largely because they were all younger than me. When a new girl who was my age started about a month before I left, I was super excited. She was an exceptional at making friends, and put herself out there from Day One. She told everyone she was new and that she didn’t know anyone in town. She made sure she got everyone’s phone number before the weekend. Seriously, this girl was that good.
So, of course, she tried to plan a happy hour for the interns. The flaw with the plan was that we tried to make it work for everyone’s schedule. It’s a nice gesture, but everyone has other jobs and different commitments, so most likely, it’s going to be impossible for everyone to make it. Before we knew it we ran out of time and it didn't happen.
So here in Denver, I told a girl I sit next to, "Hey, we should go to happy hour sometime and get some others to join, too." First, I was so proud of myself for asking, and secondly, she agreed! We decided told the others to come if they could make it. It was the perfect plan: We’d still have each other, even if no one else could come. Luckily, a few others were able to join, and we enjoyed a couple of drinks at the office’s watering hole.
Making friends in this city has just literally fallen into place. The interns are great, I’m making friends on my apartment floor, and think I could have an exceptional social life soon. This challenge has made me ask questions and look at each opportunity to make a friend because I know I have to write something at the end of the week. So instead of saying, “No, I don’t need to say something. I’ll wait till next week,” I just speak up. My new motto is carpe diem, or YOLO as we say it now. There’s no time like the present!
Kelsey Colt is the writer behind the blog The Pilot's Daughter. She also pens a food column in the Island Eye News called Lowcountry Bites and keeps herself busy freelancing for a variety of online blogs. As an aspiring food writer, she can constantly be found cooking, eating and trying new foods. Currently she is about to make a big move from Charleston to Denver to begin working at 5280 magazine. For recipes and travel advice visit her blog: the-pilots-daughter.com.More from this Author