Next up in my summer series, “Avoiding Unemployment,” is…try everything! (Spoiler alert: This is the second-to-last post in my summer series. Next week’s post will feature the my first-ever guest blogger on PR and Political Communication Commentary and will focus on searching for internships and jobs. Check back next week to find out who’s writing and what he/she has to say!)
You’ve heard the cliches that college is the time “to find yourself” and “experience everything.” Although that cliche can mean many different things, in my professional experience, it’s more than true. Internships are the way to learn what you like and, more importantly, what you don’t.
Remember those Girl Scouts badges you got when you were a Brownie? They were called “Try It” badges. Because you were young, you were encouraged to try everything to help you decide what you liked and what you didn’t. Internships are no different — they’re all about “try it.”
Internships are like being in Brownies — you have to try it! (Image courtesy of store.girlscoutsindiana.org.)
Here’s my “try it” story. (I don’t mean to launch into a personal diatribe, but I believe my story may mirror your own…or inspire you to get out there, take a chance, try something new, and make your future career better for it.)
During my first internship at a credit union, I discovered that my favorite part of the job was working with nonprofits regarding our corporate sponsorships. Therefore, the following spring, I contacted the individual I had met at the nonprofit we worked with (that’s why you’ve got to network, people!), and she connected me with someone at my local American Cancer Society chapter. I worked at ACS the following summer and continued to enjoy the nonprofit world. I thought I had found my niche.
The following school year, I interned at another nonprofit, Autism Delaware, and gained more experience in the nonprofit sector. As a self-proclaimed “bleeding heart,” I just loved the nonprofit world — all those people not working for money but for the good of humanity — I couldn’t get enough of it.
The fall of my junior year, my professor and my mentor throughout college looked at me and told me to get an internship at an agency. She told me she thought I had what it takes to make it in the fast-paced, deadline-oriented agency world. Even though I was doubtful that I could love anything more than the nonprofit world, I decided to try something new and apply for an agency internship.
And, thank goodness I did! The summer before my senior year I worked at Inside Out Creative (now the IOCreative Group), and I can confidently say I learned more about public relations and communications in the first week of my internship than I had in all of my other internships combined. (P.S. Notice that I said more about “public relations and communications.” I learned so much at both my nonprofit internships that have greatly contributed to my professional life, and I am so grateful for those experiences!) I realized that my true love really was communication and public relations, and I wanted my future position to revolve around a lot of writing and communications.
So, good thing I took that chance. I loved the fast-paced agency world. But, I still had another love I just couldn’t shake — politics.
It’s why I applied (and was accepted) to the 2012 Legislative Fellows program, where upperclassmen and graduate students from the University of Delaware assist legislators and staff during session. From January through June of this year, I had the opportunity to work for the Delaware House of Representatives Democratic Caucus and staff the House Administration, Gaming, and Government Accountability committees. I learned so much about how government really works — and I learned that I definitely didn’t want to go into politics.
So, good thing I did that fellowship. Before my legislative internship, I was convinced that I loved public affairs and government. The truth was I loved analyzing government (I had also spent a summer as a research assistant in our Center for Political Communication), but I didn’t love politics. Unfortunately, the two are inevitably linked together. However, the internship was so valuable — you definitely can’t learn about government from a textbook; you really just have to be there to understand it. I’m thankful I had that opportunity to do so.
After writing this, I realize maybe it was fitting that this was a bit more about me than intended. As the last post of this series, this is my story. It’s the story of how I interned, interned, interned until I learned what I liked and what I didn’t. It’s the story of how I learned a lot at the internships that I loved, and it’s the story of how I learned a lot at the internships that I didn’t love as much. It’s the story of how I had a myopic view of what I wanted before I had actually tried new things out. It’s the story of how I tried everything.
It’s the story of how I, in the end, successfully avoided unemployment. What will your story be?
(Comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let me know if you’ve found my “Avoiding Unemployment” series helpful. Your comment could be featured in a future post!)