Endless Internships

June 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

Here’s one thing you may or may not know about me: I like to plan ahead. A lot.

I’m not sure how I picked up this trait, or why it’s reared its head, particularly in college. A lot of people I know don’t bother to research jobs or take a look at what companies are hiring and where. I happen to like scouring job postings. I’ve procrastinated on homework by researching internships or jobs (shh). I’ve bookmarked sites I want to check out when I’m searching for a full-time job, I’ve found internships I want to explore, and I’ve found internships I’d like to apply to for the next summer. Wait. I just started this internship. Am I already looking a year ahead?

Yep, I am. I know a lot can change in a year, but if there’s one important thing to remember, it’s that the big internships (like at Google and Facebook) go quickly. Also, the application process begins in December. It’s not a bad idea to get a head start on research, now is it? Which leads me to my next question: while I search for internships and job postings so far ahead, how many internships does one college student really need?

I’m not going to pretend to know the answer to this question. When I first showed up at Scripps, wide-eyed and blinking in the bright L.A. sun, I probably couldn’t have told you what I wanted to do with an internship, or where, or why. The most I’d heard about internships was some talk from my brother, who is two years ahead of me in school. By the end of my freshman year in college, though, I had an internship for the summer, plus a summer job. I was headed down the well-worn internship path before I even knew it. When I got home, I found out that a lot of my friends didn’t have internships yet — they’d either fallen back on the summer job they’d had in high school (which I did too, nothing wrong with it!), or were planning on looking at internships in the next year or two. Like me, they’d originally heard or assumed that internships were mostly given out to juniors and seniors in college, or, the “ones who were actually concerned with getting a full-time job.” We were too young to worry about full-time jobs, so why would we bother with internships?

Well, I really enjoyed my first internship (which was with an awesome company, Savvy Cinderella). In fact, at the time I didn’t know what an extraordinary experience I was getting. Looking back, I see that my internship was full to the brim with unique experiences and responsibilities. People have recently started responding with: “Wow! You got that kind of internship experience as a freshman? I’d kill for that!” I’m proud to say that I had a wonderful six months at Savvy Cinderella, and can only say good things about the company. This summer, I was determined to get another internship that would be just as fulfilling. Well, here I am with Livefyre, and I can’t even begin to talk about what an amazing experience it’s been. I’m learning new things every day, love the people I work with, and I enjoy the work. What more could a girl ask for?

So my first two summers have been filled with internship experiences that have ultimately been for the better. I’m already hunting for next summer’s possibilities. The summer after that, I’ll be a college graduate, and I sure as heck hope I’m looking for a full-time job and not an internship at that point. So, in the three summers as a college student, I’ll have spent every one in some form of an internship. Here’s the kicker: is it a good use of my time?

Some skeptics may disagree, but so far, my answer to that is absolutely, without a doubt, are-you-even-kidding-me, what-kind-of-question-is-that. I’ve learned so much in only two internships, and there’s so many more fields I could explore. Internships, when done right, are a win-win. The company gets to “test out” an employee, and the intern gets to “test out” the company and job. A lot is learned by both parties. In the end, the company might offer the intern a job, recommendations, school credit, etc., etc., and the intern has knowledge and experience. Unless you’ve had bad luck and your internship is all about fetching coffee and licking envelopes, you really can’t lose.

So, how many internships does a college student need? As many as they want, I suppose. Of course, I can say that because I’ve had fantastic experiences — some might say otherwise. In fact, this post was inspired by a news article I read recently in the Contra Costa Times about how more internships are available, but more and more of them are exploitative. Luckily, I haven’t found that to be true, but it saddens me that other people have.

So, what do you think? How many internships does a college student need?

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