To Succeed at Work, Be a Dragon-bull

As an intern, one of the best pieces of career advice I ever received was “Be a dragon-bull.”

For many, internships are the first step into the real world; unfortunately they sometimes provide a rude awakening. I had such an experience in my first major internship. As someone who had always succeeded in life, I had become overconfident.

That confidence, however, was quickly shattered.

My boss was demanding and very critical of everyone’s work – including me. If you didn’t do something perfect the first time, you got an ear full. I was learning, and my work wasn’t perfect, so at times I was severely criticized.

I started to dread going to work and feared doing or saying anything wrong. The entire situation was beyond stressful. After talking (and crying a lot to my family) my brother offered this advice: “straighten up and grow a pair.”

He said if I were going to make it in life, I need to be a dragon-bull. My brother explained, “A dragon-bull has two unmistakable features: 1) tough, scaly skin and 2) a big pair of cajones.”

In any internship, you might apply my brother’s unusual advice…

Bosses, regardless of their mentorship abilities, are going to criticize your work. That is their name on the door… so what you do as an intern represents them. Don’t take what your boss says personally. Instead, like a dragon-bull, develop tough skin and let everything but the learning lesson bounce right off you.

Equally important as an intern: take risks speak up in meetings and make bold suggestions for your projects. Put aside any fear or intimidation you might feel… employers will notice the extra initiative. Yes, it’s scary to consistently put yourself out there, but that’s when you have to grow a pair – and just do it.

I became a dragon-bull and earned a promotion. In the process, I gained a lot of knowledge and experience that have shaped me professionally… and personally, too. And none of that success would have happened if my brother hadn’t encouraged me to be a dragon-bull.

So it’s my turn to pass on this colorful advice…

Be a dragon-bull!


About the Author: Lauren Kirkpatrick is YouTern’s Social Media Outreach Intern. She graduated from San Diego State in 2011, with a Bachelors degree in Public Relations. During college she interned for Integrated Sports Marketing, and has since worked for several San Diego area PR firms while developing her passion for social media.

In her personal life, Lauren is never more than 3 feet from her iPhone or Macbook – she says “they have their own side of the bed” – (and our guess is they probably also have their own iNames!) She’s a sports junkie, TV aficionado and expert baker. Follow Lauren on Twitter!


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