Written By: Neha Ogale

In two short hours, I will collect my things and bid farewell to Suite 260 of 8245 Boone Boulevard. As I sit at my desk, I survey the various paraphernalia taking up residence in my office: an empty coffee mug, jumbles of cords and surge protectors, pads of sticky notes. My employee ID sits by the keyboard, the words Proposal Intern printed neatly beneath my name.

It’s strange to think that just two months ago I was walking through the door for the first time, nervous for my first day of work and pleasantly surprised at having my own workspace. Somehow, being able to say My office made this job seem more legit, because years of watching sitcoms and rom-coms had effectively lowered my expectations: Before starting this internship, I resigned myself to the idea of spending my summer in the confines of a dingy cubicle, fetching coffee and sending emails. Luckily, the Keurig in the kitchen rendered any espresso excursions unnecessary. I was not so fortunate with the emails, which I quickly learned are ubiquitous and therefore unavoidable for the average white-collar worker.

Jokes aside, this internship was as much a “real job” as I could have hoped for these past couple of months. Though my job title suggests that I worked exclusively with one group, I actually split my time between the proposals team and the marketing department. Ken Kirk – the proposal manager and my supervisor – oversaw my work, which entailed an assortment of clerical tasks and writing assignments. Proposals had a backlog of old contracts that needed appraising; I spent my early days on the job filling out Gold Standard Past Performance Evaluations, armed with a blank template and a patchwork of legal documents to sift through. Ken also gave me the opportunity to do write-ups on business development and concepts such as change management. Under his guidance, I gained a newfound appreciation for the precision and methodology of technical writing: To sound altogether capable, convincing and concise is no mean feat, even for the sharpest of writers. I’d like to think that my time with Proposals taught me a lesson or two on brevity.

Since high school, I have consistently been involved in student journalism, slowly narrowing my focus to opinion writing. My persuasive writing and copyediting skills were likely what landed me this internship in the first place. As a former columnist turned opinion editor at my college newspaper, I was able to apply journalism to the work I was doing at the company. This skill set proved to be especially pragmatic in my collaboration with the marketing department. Alongside Phillip Mazzotta – one of the marketing associates – I brainstormed ideas for blog topics encompassing business, health, and technology. Writing these blogs was when I felt like I was truly in my element during my time at MicroHealth: This was the work I looked forward to doing the most. I would spend hours scouring the internet for reference material because I needed enough background knowledge on the blog topic at hand. I must have accumulated over a dozen pages of handwritten notes while doing my research.

Ken and Phil pretty much gave me free reign with the blogs. Initially, Ken would assign me a topic to cover and I would work from there, but he and Phil encouraged me to pitch my own ideas as well. I would compile a draft and send it to Ken for proofreading, where he would make comments and suggestions. The final draft went to Phil, who would read through the piece again and format it in WordPress, where he would add photos or graphics. He would make it a point to stop by my office before publishing to get my input on the visuals he had chosen. It seems like a small gesture, but receiving that kind of consideration despite being an intern is more than I could have asked for and is a positive reflection on the work environment as a whole. Companies face a difficult task in this way: They must strike a precarious balance between giving employees their independence without leaving them feeling isolated from the rest of the organization. MicroHealth succeeded in creating this balance. Though I was given a considerable amount of leeway in my work, I always felt engaged with what I was doing and knew that my voice would be heard.

I started this internship fresh out of the coffee- and anxiety-fueled days of my first year of college, where 9 A.M. is considered “early” and mid-morning naps are not only acceptable but commonplace. If there’s one thing I took away from the experience, it’s that for a short while I got to play the role of real adult. I was up by 6:30 every morning and out the door by 7:15, clutching my travel mug full of coffee as I prepared to make the hellish commute from Ashburn to Tysons Corner. I would sip my coffee and snarl at the wayward, equally disgruntled commuters weaving in and out of traffic. I’ve even taken to complaining about how expensive things are here in Northern Virginia, and I feel slightly underdressed in anything other than business or snappy casual. My night owl self now considers the day wasted if I sleep past 9 A.M., even on weekends. I can’t say I’ll never wear a hoodie to class again or sleep till noon, but this internship has definitely made me grow up a bit.

Overall, my summer stint here at MicroHealth was an incredibly rewarding experience. Sure, I won’t miss getting up so early, or sitting in traffic jams or rearranging my facial expression into something mildly interested during morning meetings. I will, however, miss the work  I had the opportunity to do and the people I was able to do it with. I’ll miss the loudness and last stragglers strolling in, I’ll miss the chaotic conference calls and company lunches, and people complaining about the subpar K-cup quality.

Today might be my last day as an intern, but I know my time at the company isn’t over quite yet. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work here, and I leave this office with the hope that I can continue my work with MicroHealth in the future.