I Am Intern, Hear Me Roar

This is a guest blog by Elizabeth S., a sophomore strategic- communications major in the journalism school at the University of Missouri.

I’ll repeat what every other blogger is saying: these days, internships are crucial.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re going into accounting, filmmaking, medical practice, or advertising (like me).  People lean toward hiring those with past experience.  It doesn’t matter how many classes you take in your subject of interest- real world experience is so much different than anything you can learn in a classroom.  Take it from me.

I started Mizzou last fall as a freshman dedicated to broadcast journalism.  I had done extensive video work in high school and fell in love with it, thus assuming I would also love real-world reporting.  Ha, I was so wrong.  I started getting work experience at a television station in Columbia, Mo., in September of freshman year as a production assistant.  Many of my journalism-studying peers were jealous of the opportunity I got, because few freshmen think to get positions at the station that early on in the game.  I’m glad I started working there when I did, because I hated it.  I hated how much working at the station demanded.  I hated how fast everything moved.  I hated the $90 I had to spend on make-up for the mornings I woke up at 4:40 a.m. to anchor an early morning segment.  So what did I do?  I switched my major to advertising.

I didn’t want to make the same mistake of choosing a path without getting real experience of what that career entails, so I started looking for internships during winter break of freshman year.  I discovered an advertising agency in my hometown that I fell in love with, but knew that it was too big of a dream to accomplish at that point in time.  I knew I would need internship experience before applying for an internship with the agency, so to make a long story short, I weaseled my way into a Strategic Communication internship fair for juniors and seniors and came out with an opportunity.  Two months later, in April of freshman year, I had my first real (paid!) position as an advertising intern.

I still have that internship today, and I have learned so much while working that I could never learn in a classroom.  In my internship, with my boss providing minimal supervision, my co-intern and I are completely in control of the advertising for a weekly newspaper.  I have learned how to make successful sales pitches, how to fix and build ads, as well as how to correct mistakes that weren’t caught until after publication.  As of now, in September of my sophomore year, the plan is to apply for that dream internship and hopefully be accepted for this summer.

Each internship you get, no matter how short, looks great on a resumé and helps give you that leg up over your competition.  Companies hate teaching the basics to new interns and employees, so they appreciate when you come in with a base knowledge of how to do things.  People talk about the “coffee getter” internships, or the “My boss doesn’t know my name” internships, but they’re not all like that.  An internship is a way to learn from people who not only know what they’re doing, but want to help you succeed and know what you’re doing, too.  So take my advice and get one.  For your first internship, don’t go for the one everyone wants because, to be honest, you probably won’t get it.  Find a business involved in what you like and make a proposal.  They’ll appreciate the initiative and you’ll come out on top.  What have you got to lose?