Tracy’s Story: Internships Were a Key to My Success
As I began the last year of my undergraduate degree, I knew I needed a post-graduation plan. The problem was I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do.
I was majoring in English and had explored many of the traditional jobs associated with my degree—teaching, editing, writing, and law—but none of them seemed like the right fit for me at the time. I began to analyze my other interests and determine what companies did the type of work I was passionate about.
My first round of brainstorming led me to consider nonprofit work and politics. My college’s program coordinators helped me access a database of internship opportunities and gave me training on how to write a competitive résumé and cover letter. I soon found a university-sponsored internship program in Washington D.C., and after compiling numerous internship applications, waiting for responses, and preparing for phone interviews, I accepted an internship working in a congressional office.
My four months working in Washington D.C. were amazing! The office staff were great at mentoring and giving the interns hands-on experience. During my time there I learned how to be confident in professional settings, and I learned that I couldn’t wait for people to give me work; I had to look for needs I could fill. Though I realized during my internship that I didn’t want to pursue politics professionally, it was such a blessing to figure this out during a four-month internship, rather than several months into a full-time commitment.
Shortly after graduation, I searched for entry-level jobs that required writing and stumbled across a web content writing internship for a humanitarian organization I admired. I applied, interviewed, and was offered the position. Even though I was considering several other opportunities that weren’t internships, I felt that completing another internship would allow me to do the kind of work that I really wanted to do.
What I didn’t know was that this internship would teach me about content marketing, a field I didn’t even know existed when I was in school. I noticed I would even get excited about some of the seemingly mundane projects I was assigned, and I wanted to be included in every meeting to listen and learn about how everything fit together.
During my internship, I networked with colleagues, asking them about their responsibilities and how they had advanced in their professions. I sought information about companies they admired and compiled a list of potential employers to research.
Near the end of my internship, a full-time position opened up on our team, and I applied right away. I knew that I could confidently apply for and succeed in the position because of my months of hard work and the connections I had developed with my coworkers. I was offered the job and continue to love it.
If I could give my younger self any advice, it would be to start doing internships earlier. I thought I had to know exactly what I wanted to do in my career to apply for internships. It took the pressure off and was a lot more helpful once I took a step back and said, “I just want to learn more about how this industry works” or, “What would it be like to work for this company?” I credit finding the full-time employment I now enjoy to my internships because they helped me explore possible career paths and gain my professional footing.