The Value Found in Starting Internships Early
When I first started school, my advisors consistently talked about a brilliant girl who, throughout her time in undergrad, had completed nearly 12 internships. Yes, truly that many. She became known to me as “Internship Girl,” and subconsciously, I think this became my personal denotation of success.
Now, for a little more backstory, I was raised in a family driven by hard work. Whether it be through silent competition with my older sister, classmates, or honestly myself, I always wanted to achieve as much as humanly possible to set myself up for future success. Fear of losing out on success, security, and stability drove me to do as much as possible, almost as if attaining those values would protect me from future harm. (This is the life of an Enneagram two.)
Working at Choice has taught me so many lessons that reach far beyond tactical skills and have helped me lose a bit of that future-themed fear. Yes, I’ve been exposed to numerous opportunities and learned essential PR skills, such as pitching and brand audits, but my “education” at Choice has reached far beyond that. At Choice, there is an emphasis on communication, relationships, and hard work. The women who make up this company aren’t working aimlessly – the work they do is work for good and that is one of the most valuable things I think I could be exposed to. As I near the end of my time at Choice, I want to reflect on the benefits of starting internships early, and how doing so granted me the things I was most fearful of missing out on.
When I began my first “official” internship my sophomore year of college, I had no idea what to expect. I was diving in head first with my eyes closed. What started as an unfamiliar experience quickly turned into a job I loved and was praised for. Gaining wins in my role pushed me to do better and better, to seek out more opportunities for improvement.
When you work hard and get rewarded, you are fueled to keep moving forward. This is something that is universal across the board when it comes to internships. By starting internships early, you prepare yourself to chase after achievements and gain more significant experiences in each role you take on.
Not only is preparation key to learning, but if you are a resume person, starting internships early sets you up well in this area, too. The more experience you get, the more marketable you are as an individual when it comes to future job roles. If you want to have a strong resume, starting simple roles early on is a great way to achieve that.
Showing up on the first day of any job is intimidating, overwhelming, and exhausting. But one thing I’ve noticed is that the more practice you have at showing up, the more comfortable and “normal” it becomes.
Just as various positions have granted me the opportunity for success in the future, the same experiences have also allowed for immense growth. I can walk into any new position confident in the skills and abilities I’ve developed and prepared to bring them to the table. Beyond that, I know my ability to learn new things based on the adaptability I gained in each previous position.
For example, in an earlier role, I was discouraged because I left the job with only a few hard skills learned. However, what I didn’t realize were the crucial soft skills I gained along the way. No experience is wasted because in every position you will learn how to better communicate, ask questions, develop as a professional individual, and get assigned tasks completed. Though the work might be monotonous, the growth you experience day-by-day will be worth so much more at the end.
At Choice, I have focused on developing a few critical skills, such as crafting pitches, completing brand audits, researching clients, and building media lists. However, the “other” skills I learned are equally, if not more, important to me. At Choice, I have learned how to be a part of the team. The team mentality is so strong here, and being welcomed as a simple intern was eye-opening and extremely refreshing. Ironically, I feel closer to this team, who is remote, than any other team I’ve worked with in the past. I feel more comfortable in my work, my identity, and my career aspirations because of the people, tasks, and community mentality I’ve been surrounded by. These are the skills that you don’t want to miss out on. These are the growth opportunities that make completing internships so valuable and that will shape the future decisions you make.
Stability and Security
I have found that being in various types of positions grants stability. This is mainly a reference to the Enneagram, where I fall between types two and six. Now, a short explanation: twos are driven to help, are others-focused and pitch in regardless of the time or situation. They are the “helpers.” Sixes are loyal, committed, supportive and stability-oriented. I often thought I was a two, but have more recently identified with a six.
Because of that, my drive with internships is to gain a sense of security for my future. In their most basic form, this is what internships are meant to do: give candidates the right experience and connections so that they can be prepared for the day when they accept a full-time role. There’s no doubt this has been the main driving factor for the reason I have completed such an array of positions, but it doesn’t lessen their value either. Internships will provide a sense of security regardless of how many you complete. This has everything to do with topics previously mentioned: the experiences and knowledge you gain, the connections and work community. All of this adds up to help any individual feel competent and prepared to take on a real-world job.
I believe internships are essential to any career path. You truly have nothing to lose when you’re trying out a position because honestly, internships are just like test drives on a new car. They are created to familiarize the candidate, teach new things and prepare you for the future. Nothing bad can come from trying out an internship, especially with a company like Choice. So if I had any final advice it would be this: give it a chance, pitch in, and be prepared to learn. Even if it’s just one internship, that will be valuable. We don’t all have to be “internship girl!”