Why I HIGHLY Recommend Interning in College
College is THE time to try out different jobs like you’re trying on sweaters. I’ve worked about 12 different jobs since I was 16 and each one’s taught me something new, but most importantly each job’s showed me what I want- and don’t want in the future.
That’s why I can’t recommend interning enough if you’re still in college. Once you find your niche, you’ve gotta try it out to see if it’s as snug of a fit as you thought it’d be. And the best way to get as close to working in the actual role you want someday is to get your internships going.
I’m pretty lucky because since I’ve started college I knew exactly what I wanted to study. I was so sure I wanted to be a broadcast journalist, that I transferred schools to study exactly that when my first university got rid of their journalism program. I dreamed of interning at a news station since I was a freshman, but for a while it looked like that wouldn’t happen since COVID erupted my sophomore year.
But I’m nothing if not strategic, so I took a gap year and actually got to to intern twice that year- once at a news station, and once working on the communications team in my hometown mayor’s office.
But to get those two internships, I had to get some experience on my resume which is why I took a virtual internship my junior year, where I worked to create a podcast about burnout in the healthcare industry. I’ll be completely honest- it wasn’t my favorite job ever, but it was communications related and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Why? Because I got so much out of it just by showing up and asking questions and trying to make something successful.
So much that you get out of internships are the little things they don’t teach you in school. These little things, like how to talk to your boss, write out an email, communicate conflicts, and work on a team are actually BIG things you need to know. And while you’re learning these things, you’re going to make mistakes along the way. I thank God that I made all those stupid mistakes I did at my three internships in my temporary roles and not my post-graduate roles. Making a mistake is soooo much more embarrassing when the stakes are high, so I think it’s better to get them out of your system the earlier the better. It’s the only way to learn and get better!
Doing that first podcast internship also helped show my next internship team that I was a team player and reliable employee. I don’t know if I would’ve gotten the role if I didn’t have that first internship. And it went the same way with my third and biggest internship at a news station.
It was a lot of hard work somedays trying to show up and give it my 110% each day. I did fetch a lot of coffee at one of my internships but I honestly didn’t mind because I was still given the opportunity to learn and grow when I wasn’t running errands. If you’re above helping your team succeed, even with coffee-runs, then maybe you need to step back and remember that everyone gets their start somewhere. As amazing as it’d be if we could all just skip steps and go all the way to the top, it’s important to remember the ladder order is there for a reason. Each ladder rung has lessons that prepare us for our next step up. If we all skyrocketed to the top, we’d probably feel overwhelmed and unprepared for the experience that role demands.
In the end, I got different things out of all three internships, and while only one of them was in my dream career of broadcast news, I’m so happy I got the opportunity to work for all three teams. I made some really valuable connections at each place I interned and got so much great career and life advice all around. The other two internships that weren’t in news also solidified my choice to be a news reporter and journalist. I can’t see myself doing anything else right now, and I’m confident enough to say that because I tried different roles that helped me see where my strengths and weaknesses are.
I seriously learned more in 1.5 years of interning than I probably learned in 4 years of college. It’s crazy how much school doesn’t teach you about the post-grad world!
I know it can be really hard still today to find an internship, let alone get an interview for one, but I’m so thankful I didn’t give up when the going got hard. I think I applied to 25 internships before I found the first one I got. If you’re in a season of waiting to hear back from employers, keep your chin up and keep applying and reaching out to companies. All you need is one yes! Best wishes to everyone taking a new internship, job, or opportunity this year even if it’s not your dream role. Up and up, friends!