Summer’s winding down, which means a lot of us are well into our summer internships. Do you love it? Great! Hate it? Even better! Have no idea what you’re doing there in the first place? Well, there’s a method to the madness about internships (and no, it isn’t solely to build your resume). CM’s got the scoop on what the big deal about internships is and what they will teach you about yourself and your desired industry.
It Teaches You How To Act
If an internship teaches us anything, it’s how a company runs and how to properly fit ourselves inside that running machine. As interns, we have ample opportunities to observe how our bosses and their co-workers communicate, proper desk etiquette in an office environment and how professionals deal with issues within a company.
Lafayette College senior Drew Friedman has had mostly poorly structured internships, but doesn’t believe bad internships are for nothing. “They have taught me how to be more patient, and to pick my battles,” he said. So whether we are simply running errands for our bosses or actually sitting in at meetings, our presence alone teaches us a great deal.
University of Maryland senior Samantha Colin has had a different internship every year since freshman year. “I’ve scrubbed floors with Clorox wipes and my bare hands and stared at excel media grids until my eyeballs had holes burnt into them,” she said. “But I’ve learned to respect my seniors because everyone has to start somewhere.” Playing Annie for the summer unknowingly teaches you more than how to be an efficient cleaner.
It Confirms What You Want to Do
As a senior journalism major, I’ve dedicated three whole years of my life to this field. But what if I graduate college, start my career in journalism, and realize it isn’t for me? Internships exist, in part, to avoid this travesty. According to Friedman, internships give us real life experience that, to him, are more important than school. “The only way to get a true sense of what you enjoy and what you are good at is by going out and doing it,” Friedman said.
But it’s not just the job type you should be concerned with. There are plenty of qualities that set a company apart−its size, structure, culture, goals, etc. Colin said she has worked at world-renowned international corporate companies, startups by millennials, medium-sized creative PR agencies and everything in between. “But what I’ve learned most through internships, aside from how to navigate the communication world, is that unless the company’s culture aligns with your values, the partnership will never work,” she said.
Size matters too. University of Maryland graduate Natalie Rup has three internships under her belt. One at a small agency, one at a large agency, and now she is at a medium sized agency. It took three long summers for her to find her happy medium. Some people work better on their own while others work better in teams, and it takes an internship experience to teach you what kind you are. Rup finally found what she wanted at the mid-sized agency. “You get close to your team, work closely with everyone and people take the time to teach you things,” she said.
It Helps You Network
When you’re on your 10 zillionth coffee run and you think you can’t file one more paper without losing your mind, put a smile on your face and ask your boss if she would like another cup of coffee. After you complete an internship you want a company to say, “Wow, this is the best damn intern I’ve ever had.” This is important whether you want a job at this company or you want to run for the hills at 5 p.m. on your last day.
“Internships open up a network of people for your career,” Colin said. People talk. And when they do talk, you better hope it’s positively about you. The people you meet at one internship can introduce you to another company you never knew existed and is more of a perfect fit for you. And when said company asks about you, the company you slaved over for two months will say they’re lucky to have you. So yes, all those hours of corporate hazing are worth it.