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.
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.