There is so much information out there about how to find an internship that’s right for you, one that relates to your field of study, or one that will boost your experiences. We’ve covered topics such as:
- How to find your perfect internship,
- And, how to make the most out of your internship experience while you’re there.
But the topics hardly ever discussed are those such as: “what to do with your experience after the internship” or “how to hone in on the various skills and lessons you learned from your experience,” even if the experience wasn’t what you expected it to be.
I’ve done two internships during my time at Oregon State, and one the summer following my junior year of high school. I know you must be thinking, “Wow, this girl started early!” But, with my indecisiveness on what to major in, I had to start early.
See, the important thing to understand about internships is that, while you may be able to earn college credits for them, they above all serve as important tools in your career development. For example, the first internship I did following my junior year of high school was through a class at The Art Institute of San Diego. At the time, head over heels for art and computers, I was interested in Computer Animation. Attending a small, private high school, I had no access to Computer Animation classes or an opportunity to experience with the subject. In doing research, I was able to find a Computer Animation summer class offered by The Art Institute, and found it the perfect opportunity to explore the subject. This experience assisted me in exploring computer animation as a potential career, developing hands-on computer animation skills, and networking with top computer animators in the country (my teacher drew Pink Panther and Spongebob)! What this experience also taught me was that Computer Animation wasn’t the right industry for me. The tedious drawing of each and every movement and shift was something I didn’t have the patience for. While some might deem this an unsuccessful internship experience, I ended up learning a lot about myself, including the types of jobs I saw myself a part of in the future. I couldn’t see myself sitting at a drawing board or computer all day; I wanted to be more engaged with others and I decided a job that allowed me to work with people would be one I would succeed most in.
My second internship experience brought similar results. Still unsure of what I wanted to major in, I continued to take opportunities to assist me in figuring it out. As an IT and Investigations Intern at the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office, I was able to further develop my IT skills, as well as explore Law Enforcement as a potential path. This experience was beneficial, as I was able to note Law Enforcement as a potential degree path and add numerous skills to my resume. I was able to, again, increase my computer skills, gaining knowledge in databases, as well as serve as a right-hand to attorney’s, first-handedly gaining insight on what being an attorney entails.
My third, and most recent, internship was with the Disney College Program. This experience, much different from the two mentioned previously, brought back my desire to work with people. While my second internship sparked my interest in Law Enforcement, the Disney College Program sparked my interest in the Tourism and Hospitality industry. I was working in the Florida summer (so hot!) in outdoor foods, which I knew I didn’t want to do for a career. While the job itself wasn’t interesting to me, I was able to note various aspects of the job that I enjoyed, such as my love for providing exceptional customer service. I realized that I enjoyed the District Attorney’s Office internship because I was serving the attorney’s; I was assisting them in their court cases by printing photos, recording testimonies, listening to and editing testimony transcripts, and other relevant tasks. Assisting guests at The Walt Disney World Resort helped me recognize my natural passion for customer service and the importance of customer service as an element of my future career.
The point here is, that if an internship opportunity arises and sparks your interest, I encourage you to go for it! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Even experiences that show you what you don’t want to do, will surprise you in ways you never thought, many times teaching you a little more about yourself. The cool thing about internships is that they exist to help you learn. An internship is defined as any official or formal program to provide practical experience for beginners in an occupation or profession. From this definition, it is important to keep in mind that an internship provides ‘practical experience’. You may be interested in the study of a particular field or subject, but it is equally important to gain experience working hands-on in that field, in order to confirm it is right for you. So I encourage you to take advantage of the many internships that are out there, because there is ALWAYS opportunity in EVERY opportunity! And for those of you that have participated in internships you thought were a waste of time, you completely disliked, or weren’t what you expected, I encourage you to look back at those experiences and make note of the things you did learn from them.
posted by Erica Evans, Career Assistant