Trainee, junior or senior. There are other labels but I'll stick with this for now!
I believe that the internship is essential to get into the real work world with some margin for trial and error. Most designers that come out of school are used to work with the "tools of the trade" but there are some tips and tricks that you only learn by doing real work. And by real work, I mean real clients that bring real life problems.
You might have the luck to do your internship with a mentor that will teach you some shortcuts and motivate you to push yourself forward and beyond your comfort zone. Others don't have that luck and have to rely on themselves to stay motivated and go forward!
When you are a "junior whatever" you are already doing real work on your own. You push yourself forward and out of your comfort zone, produce great work, keep yourself informed and motivated. You want to know more and more every day and you do some extra effort to do that. You read every cool known blog, listens to podcasts, read books, watch videos, you do it in every spare second of your day.
Then you move up and become a "senior whatever". You have more responsibility and less margin for error. You start doing more safe work. Work you know that won't bring any problems and delay to your pipeline. You stay in your comfort zone. You lose that eager for knowledge and only keep up with a few known blogs a read a book often. You might get married and had a child and start redirecting your priorities towards your family. You still produce good work but you admit that your glory days are fading.
You might be in a position that you do more managing work and you have to deal more with clients or your team. Making sure that your projects keep on track and keeping clients in the loop.
Look back and remember those junior days! Why do we have to relate our mindset to a label? Can´t I be a senior with a junior attitude? I know that there are lots of people that do it but there are even more that let themselves fade, and rely on safe work. It might need extra effort and organization but I believe it will compensate! I'll fight to get my junior mindset back!
Image Credits: Moose