My Life as an Intern

I’ve heard the saying hundreds of times: college students can only pick two out of good grades, a social life, and sleep. But I think that’s a pretty narrow view of a college student’s life. It leaves out something that I spent plenty of time doing during college: interning.

Today was my last day as a strategy intern at Onyx Group. My internship at Onyx was the fourth in a practically non-stop line of internships I did since the summer of 2009, starting at Kidd Group, The Children’s Campaign, and The Zimmerman Agency before I interned at Onyx for a year. With graduation only a week away, I’ve been looking back at my college years, and I’m wondering, what would college have been like without internships?

I would’ve been able to sleep in a lot more. I would’ve exercised a lot more (maybe even have the oh-so-elusive six pack by now), had a lot more three-day weekends, and  maybe I would’ve even gotten a dog since I’d have more time to spend with it. But even though I may have had more time for these things without internships, I in no way regret any of my internships. I’m very happy I spent so much time interning because I learned a lot that you just can’t get from a classroom.

First of all, in school our hard work is rewarded with a nice, shiny A, and written compliments from our professors. But in the workplace, it’s a lot more important to find motivation from within. My internships were a great way to adjust from expecting praise each time I turned in great work to turning in great work because it’s what’s expected. Of course, my supervisors let me know how well I was doing every once in a while, but in my day-to-day activities I learned to adopt the mindset that I’m working hard because it makes me feel good to turn in great work, not because I’m expecting a grade.

Second, my internships really made me realize the importance of deadlines in a way that no class ever could. Turning in a paper late knocks points off your grade, and you can always salvage your grade later in the semester. If you don’t distribute a press release by a publication’s deadline, there are no second chances.

And third, the experience I’ve gotten from my internships has been invaluable. I wouldn’t trade it for all the three-day weekends in the world. Finding my first internship was difficult because I had no previous experience, but from there I noticed that each semester I had more interviews and offers. I can’t imagine graduating and searching for my first job with no internships under my belt.

Wearing my mustache mask at the Addys with Team Onyx.

And on top of all those learning-experiences and benefits, being an intern has been fun. I’ve met people who I wouldn’t have met otherwise and I’ve had experiences that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

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