A Growing Leaders intern shares candid insights into the post-college internship experience.
I asked Ashley, one of our spring interns, to do a blog post on her internship. She sent me these words below. I smiled as I read them. Hope you enjoy them as well.
In January, I had graduated from college with honors, was blessed with a spiffy car as a graduation gift, had a roof over my head with my family and an extroverted Maltese, and I started my spring internship with Growing Leaders. The internship was a great opportunity, and I had the privilege of working with inspiring leaders who were invested in this generation of students.
So why was I unhappy?
Within a few weeks, I was struggling with depression. The momentum of the last 16+ years of school had come to a screeching halt. As I received wedding invitations by the pound and saw Facebook updates from friends who had full time jobs or were enrolled in graduate school, I felt like everyone else was moving ahead at warp speed and I was stalled, interning in my hometown and living with my parents.
What I didn’t realize at the time was how much a few short months would teach me about life, the workforce, and myself.
Five Reasons Why An Internship After College Is Not The End of the World:
- Knowing how to make a good pot of coffee is a basic life skill. College seniors all seem to theorize about doing something great in their career, but it usually begins with learning to execute small things first. Early tasks are less about showing talent and more about earning trust. I learned to take baby steps. Besides, many connections start over a cup of coffee.
- I was asked to do things I had no idea how to do. An internship is a great opportunity to adopt the mantra, “I might not know how to do that… but I can learn!” Important growth happens outside of your comfort zone. I learned the importance of using the word, “yet.” I haven’t mastered this…yet. The idea is huge. And an internship is an environment that’s often safer to make mistakes.
- I learned my “must haves, wants, and absolutely cannots”. After a few data entry heavy days, I quickly discovered that a career without human contact is an “absolutely cannot” for me. When I had the opportunity to test out a working environment, I was given the chance to learn what keeps me motivated.
- Internships often lead to full time jobs. Several of the full time Growing Leaders staff members were interns once upon a time. An internship is like a 12 week interview, giving your organization the opportunity to see what you’re like in the day to day. Even if a job doesn’t arise with the company you intern for, experience and positive references can make or break your job search.
- The number one reason why an internship after college is not the end of the world is because it is only the beginning of the world and your place in it. One of the most important life lessons I’ve learned during my time as an intern is to stop comparing my beginning with someone else’s middle or end. My internship has been a place where the stakes are low, and the return is high to really get ready for life.
To all my over-achieving, type-A peers out there, remember that good things take time. Trust that your hard work will pay off. An internship with an organization like Growing Leaders can change your life if you’re open to it.
Thanks Ashley, for your candid insights.