I know what you’re thinking because I thought the same. Do we really have to do internships and have serious jobs on top of going to school? Can’t we take a summer off? The answer I told myself was no. I didn’t say it without a tinge of sadness though. Yes, everyone loves a good old carefree summer, but this is also a time to get out there and start exploring your interests and getting experience.
You might hear the sun calling your name from inside that office but remind yourself that there are things to be learned and resumes to be built (and probably a nice air-conditioned office to enjoy instead). Internships aren’t as much stress as they are made out to be, and I learned that from my experience this summer.
Let’s flash way back to fall of last year. As a communication and english double major, I know I am bound to do something with my life that involves writing, media, law or some combination. That’s literally all I know. So, those of you who feel like you need to have your path set in stone and be on track for your career, let me stop you right there. That’s not the reality and trust me when I say no one has anything figured out completely.
With this broad set of possible fields I could explore, I was stressed out. How was I going to build a strong resume and look like I knew what I want to do?
I had no idea which direction I wanted to go in and it somehow felt like a life or death decision.
I ended up settling on exploring news media first. I’ve always had a passion for writing and research, so working at a news station seemed like a unique setting to try out. I figured the best way to see what I like is to try out the field that interested me most and work my way from there. After settling on that, I was lucky enough to secure an internship at a local news station for the summer of 2019.
As the school year came to a close, papers and finals passed in, dorm packed up, goodbyes said and campus in the rearview for a few months, I felt my internship start date inch closer. My mind began to fill with a million questions, worries and excitement. What will I be doing? Will I like it? What if I mess up? What if I get fired?! Dramatic, I know. But I had nothing to go off of, so of course I decided to overthink and jump to the worst.
I was about to officially get a feel for the working world. Yea, I had jobs at the mall or at the equestrian farm in the summers passed, but this would be verydifferent. This would be the real 9 to 5, working in an office surrounded by professionals.
This would not be my average day working the cash register at Zumiez.
Finally, the first day came around. I woke up, forced myself to ditch my comfy sweatpants and tee shirt (not without a tinge of sadness) and threw on a button down and slacks.
As I walked through the doors of the news station, heart pounding and nerves on high, my excitement was building. I sat down at my desk and began to take it all in. Everyone was so kind and helpful right off the bat… something I did not expect. I really thought I would be put in a secluded office and given a million things to do but boy was I wrong. In the middle of the action, I sat with all the producers and reporters. I felt like I was part of the station, not just a removed observer.
Walking by some of the anchors and reporters I watched every day on TV, I found myself lost for words. I was starstruck. All I could think was “wow these are actually real-life people… and they’re talking to me, asking me if I need advice or help or just to talk if I wanted to.” I couldn’t believe I was there.
It didn’t feel like a job at all, it felt like a crazy dream.
The weeks went by, I got my intern picture I.D (basically my pass into the adult world) and I started to get the hang of things. Every day was different.It wasn’t just sitting at a desk mindlessly and watching the clock. I was going out with reporters, writing news stories, learning new writing techniques, watching the broadcast from the control room and news room, learning how to put the whole rundown of the news together and much more. The fast paced and high energy vibe is something I realized I needed in my career. I loved it.
The internship helped me organize my jumbled thoughts. I could start to really think about what I would enjoy doing in the future. It was making a checklist for me:
Reporting on camera: ehhh
Interviewing and communicating with people: check.
Helping people: check.
By the end of the internship, I began to reflect and really appreciate all it did for me.
When I started off, I was set on the idea of being a news reporter. I thought being in front of the camera was something I would love. However, when I was able to explore all the different aspects of the news, I realized that writing and producing was more exciting for me. I realized that an internship isn’t for setting your path in stone. An internship is about exploration. I now look at them as adventures into your interests. It allowed me to recognize that I still don’t know what I want, but at least I know what I like and what I could be good at.
This internship opened new doors within my mind. My ideas and intrigues have expanded, and I have some real-world experience under my belt. I made connections with amazing people and have started to set off onto new paths. The possibilities are endless. Now I’m counting down to my next internship for summer 2020. I don’t even know what it will be yet but I know it can’t come fast enough.
Ready to start your career journey by nailing that summer internship? Check out four steps that make it easy here.