Internships. A good one can be like the holy grail for college students.
It would be great if we could all be like Lauren Conrad and land one at Teen Vogue straight out of high school. But in reality, a lot of students wind up with internships that feel like they’re one step up from a temp. Think Ryan from The Office. And before you wear the humbling title of intern, you first have to go through the painstaking process of seeking one out.
I remember touring Goodby, Silverstein & Partners (my version of Teen Vogue) in college. They’re the advertising agency that created the Got Milk? advertising campaign. When asked how one could score an internship working for them, the recruiter replied with something to the effect of, “If you’re smart enough to know about us, we’ll give you an internship.” Oh, and in the same breath she explained that their internships are unpaid. Right.
I still don’t know how exactly an unpaid internship is manageable when you are working your way through college. And because I was never able to figure that out, it was goodbye, Goodby.
There’s some truth to the old sayings:
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
“Go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.”
At my college, an internship was required to graduate. I completely stressed out over finding an internship that was a) in my related field of study (a caveat to the requirement) and b) paid. Then, one night at the grocery store, I bumped into one of my college teachers, who also happened to be a city councilman. By the next week, I was a Public Information Office Intern.
You may be thinking, well la te da, Rachel. The thing is, once you start meeting people, your exposure to opportunities increase. Talk to your professors, your guidance counselor, your friends and their parents. Work the six degrees of separation to your advantage. Go to a local rotary or chamber of commerce meeting. Attend a networking luncheon in your related field, like the American Marketing Association. Research other groups in your area like a young professional’s network.
Put yourself out there!
Before you know it, you’ll be jumping up and down in the produce section of the grocery store thanking your lucky stars.