Sitting at my computer, ticking off the applications, I was sure I would be interning in Atlanta during the summer. After all, my family was there, the agencies were plentiful, and nothing could be more convenient. All but one of the applications I submitted were geared toward Atlanta agencies. The outlier was an international Christian nonprofit headquartered in Colorado Springs. Colorado?! That’ll never happen. Funny how life has a way of surprising you…
Indeed, I was one of 23 interns from around the country who took a position at Compassion International, an organization that helps to reach and develop children in poverty. It is an organization that has pulled on my heart for years. I used to dream about working for a company with a mission that aligned with my values and made a global impact. I applied to Compassion on a whim, and it exceeded all of my expectations.
Working at a huge nonprofit taught me about aspects of PR that I hadn’t previously been exposed to. Not only that, but my outlook on life and careers changed. From this experience, I believe there are four distinct goals every undergraduate should have when interning.
Change the world.
When trying to decide whether to take the position, a friend reminded me that I have my whole life to sit behind a regular corporate desk. Be adventurous while you have the chance. Do something that creates an impact. Be a superhero for the summer, even if it’s just for one person. You’ll get a unique experience that you can talk about in interviews, and maybe it’ll end up changing your life like it did mine.
Go far away.
Not only will you grow individually, but you’ll prove to yourself that it is possible to live on the other side of the country. There’s so much culture and beauty in our own backyard, and you have the chance to experience it. If nothing else, you’ll discover what kind of location you should seek when you start applying for a permanent job.
Ask for work. Keep asking. Ask again. Do it well, and you’ve got a recipe for making your colleagues wonder how they ever lived without you. Establish goals with your supervisor at the beginning of your internship and tailor them to where you need more experience and what you can add to your portfolio.
The learning curve is huge no matter where you start. You’re going to be confused, so embrace it. I asked a million questions a day, but it helped me learn protocol faster and with fewer mistakes. Also know when to delay your questions and attempt to find the answers on your own first.
Not many people can say they’ve worked for one of their dream companies before graduating from college. If your dreams are big, your steps toward achieving them should be big. Apply for what you don’t think you’ll get. Go where you don’t think you’ll live. Work for what fuels your passions.
-by Taylor Shelnutt, PRSSA Executive Member
All blogs are written by general members of UAPRSSA and Capstone Agency.