What I Learned From the College Internship I Didn’t Like

Blog - What I Learned From the Internship I Didn't Like

A college internship is an incredibly valuable opportunity as you’re making the transition from college to your career. In fact, it’s practically a necessity when you want to differentiate yourself from the thousands of other applicants flooding companies after graduation. But even better, you will feel more confident and prepared as you ease into the #adulting world.

I had four internships total between college and the real world. Naturally, one of those experiences was by far my favorite. I left feeling confident to pursue my post-grad job search and much more knowledgeable than when I walked in.

On the flipside, one of those internships was easily my least favorite. It was a public relations  internship at an agency that specialized in business-to-business marketing. I was ecstatic when I found out I landed the position for the semester. I had already had a public relations internship in the nonprofit sector and a corporate role; I had been determined to get an agency internship too. That way, I could have experience in all three before graduating.

No, it wasn’t an internship from hell. My only task wasn’t to grab coffee for the office, in fact the cliche coffee errand wasn’t a part of any of my internships. I’m certainly not claiming I had an unbearable experience.

However, I found myself disappointed on the days I had to drive there. I left feeling like I hadn’t learned all that much. And, I found that I had little to no interest in the projects I was working on. To be fair, my growing lack of enthusiasm surely had an effect on how the internship. If I’m being honest, it probably started to show.

But, when all is said is done I’m still glad I had that internship because it taught me some valuable lessons about what would make me happy in a job.

Have an internship that you’re just not that into? See if you can walk away with this major lesson.

It helped me determine the direction of my career.

By sampling the different routes I could take in my industry (corporate, nonprofit, agency) I was able to see first-hand which resonated with me the most. While all were public relations internships, each were very different.

Any industry can provide a number of different opportunities. Let’s take graphic design for example. At it’s core, your work is similar wherever you’re doing it. But, the culture and environment you encounter at a  corporate, private company is going to be much different of that at an agency. Or, a non profit organization. Or, maybe a government role.

The subject of your work might be a big factor in how much you enjoy your job too. You could be designing for a newspaper, or you could be designing for a manufacturing company. The list goes on and on.

But each experience you have gets you closer to determining what makes you most happy in a job.

I left that the internship knowing it a career at an agency wasn’t the right direction for me. The funny thing is, I felt confident beforehand that I would love a job in PR at an agency after college. Had I not tested the waters with this internship, I may have found myself in a similar role, long-term once I graduate.

Take an internship you are having a hard time enjoying and walk away with a better understanding of what you want in a career. Because as much as an intern is helpful to boost your resume, it’s that much more helpful when it comes to finding your way.

Had an internship you didn’t like? Had an internship you loved? Why?