“So what are your plans for this summer?”
Your junior year is right around the corner and you hope to find some work opportunities that will benefit your major. As the school year continues, you’re doing an great job in class. You’re a few weeks fresh into a new line of work as a lifeguard for the local pool. It pays well and it’s an easy job, but you need something more for the summer: an internship.
An internship is important because:
- It may be a requirement, depending on your major
- It gives you a better chance of getting a job after college
- You gain experience from the field of your study
- You have a better idea of what you want to do for a career
Despite these great reasons, our motivation for finding internships can suffer. As students, we believe that it is hard and competitive to find an internship. We assume that we have to either know someone or have some experience in a particular field in order to land an internship. Our confidence drops. We soon think we can’t get the internship. Eventually we become content with what we already have and end up working at the same place we worked in high school, lifeguarding again. It’s been an easy job and it’s paid well. Why bother leaving the norm if you’re all set financially?
Meet Kelly Arnold, a sophomore at Hope College, majoring in communication. This summer, she took the opportunity to be an intern at University of Michigan. She says her daily routine is always different:
“I work around 25 hours a week doing a variety of tasks, mainly writing professional blog posts for the UMSocial website, interviewing individuals from around our community for a series we have called Wolverines of Ann Arbor (similar to Humans of New York), coordinating a monthly Twitter chat we have called #UMichChat, and assisting in making our university account’s Snapchat stories. It’s busy, but so fun! And yes, it pays. I don’t know how I got so lucky.”
How did she get the internship? It goes way back to her days in high school, when she was the editor-in-chief for her school newspaper. While there, she contacted Nikki Sunstrum, the director of Social Media at the University of Michigan, for an interview on an article. After the interview, Kelly kept Nikki’s contact info and went her own way.
“[A year later] I was home for Christmas, trying to map out my summer. My dad asked me, “What do you really want to do this summer?” In a dream world, I thought, I would be doing what I want to eventually be doing professionally: working in social media. I remembered I still had Nikki’s contact, and shot her an email, figuring what’s the worst that could happen? She ended up responding within 24 hours, saying how happy she was to hear from me, and that I should send my resume in. Some writing submissions, phone interviews, emails, creative prompts, and months later, I received word that I got the internship!”
She took a chance and simply took action of curiosity. She isn’t the only one that has this type of testimony. Take myself for example.
I was getting ready to end my sophomore year still not knowing what my plans were for the summer. I didn’t want to go back home, so I looked for a local job. A sales position opened for Home and Company and Tip Toes, two retail stores in Downtown Holland. I took the chance and applied. Did I want to work at a baby store for the summer? Not really. But I had to find work. Eventually, I got the call. I had an interview, and then I was offered a job position for both stores. Shortly afterwards, my boss, Matt Holmes, realized I was a communication major. He discovered that I wanted to go into public relations and marketing, so he gave me the chance to be social media coordinator for both stores. There, I learned a lot about marketing, and I’m grateful Matt gave me that opportunity. With that experience, I finally had something under my belt for the next job.
Recently, I’ve been hired as a student worker for Public Affairs and Marketing for Hope College. I believe that this job will definitely benefit me for the future. And I don’t think I would’ve had this opportunity if I never had the social media position for Tip Toes and Home and Company. You have to start somewhere, right?
So take a chance. Go and explore. Start somewhere that you know will benefit you in the long run, even if it’s a baby store. Kelly nailed it when she said, “I guess something I’ve taken away from this experience, and apply to my life on almost a daily basis, is this: It’s always worth it to ask for what you want.” Break out of your comfort zone and take a risk of applying for that “scary” internship. Don’t live your college life as a lifeguard; live it in a way that will catapult you to the trajectory of your career path after Hope College. In the famous words of Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” So take it.
About the author: Raoul Adwan is a Communication major at Hope College and a student worker in the Office of Public Affairs and Marketing.