By Erin Doherty
I found my first internship in a Daily Nexus advertisement. It was a marketing position for a sports team and as a freshman I was so excited to get my first internship. I couldn’t wait to start.
The reality was slightly less exhilarating. I stuffed envelopes during the first month of my internship. No joke. My supervisor would put on MTV to entertain us, and we would fill envelopes or alphabetize lists for 2-3 hours after class everyday. Hardly the ideal situation I had been hoping for. Nevertheless, as a freshman I figure I didn’t have much else to do, especially since I was taking only 12 units at the time, so I stuck with it. Two years later, I had planned multiple events and created an entire email marketing campaign for them. I became Mac proficient (I’m a PC girl), wrote and designed multiple newsletters and even trained new incoming interns. Better yet, it helped me tremendously in obtaining my next job. I’d say it was worth it that first month of stuffing envelopes.
There are two bits of advice I would pass on to hopeful internship applicants. First, don’t begrudge the grunt work. It is a necessary part of the job. I didn’t want to stuff envelopes for hours on end, but it did help. Showing up day after day to perform mundane tasks showed my employers that I was ready and willing to be a part of their organization, regardless of the duties.
At the same time, don’t be afraid to be vocal about what you want from the position. I told my supervisor on the second day of the internship that I would love to help out with creating a newsletter for the team. I was eager to be involved in a more creative, marketing oriented role. By the end of my internship, I had created an entire email marketing campaign for the team. I learned how to use new software programs, trained new interns, interviewed players, wrote articles, and even did the graphic design work for the newsletters. Even after I moved on from my internship, I still stayed on as a consultant, coming back periodically to train the new interns.
I gained invaluable experience from my first internship. Most importantly, I learned to be vocal and ask for what I wanted. I don’t mean that a first time intern should begrudge running errands and getting coffee, because everyone has to start somewhere. But you should talk to your employers; tell them your interests and strengths, and what you hope to gain from your experiences. And now, time for my shameless plug. Go to Career Services. Get your resume critiqued. Go to drop-in hours and ask the Career Counselors how to get the most out of your internship. They can help you brainstorm ways to approach your employer and get the best experience possible. Good luck and go Gauchos!