Don’t Be Afraid of an Internship After College
I graduated from college in May 2010 and like so many recent graduates, I had trouble finding my dream job. I know once you get your degree, you expect the job offers to come pouring in, but that’s just not the case. Two weeks after I graduated I began an unpaid summer internship at the largest public relations firm inTennessee. Truthfully, I was happy to even get the internship, because by the end of the summer dozens of my graduate friends were still unemployed with no job in sight.
I learned so much over the summer! For the most part, I am an intrinsically motivated person, but I did learn about three weeks into the internship that I also need extrinsic motivation like a paycheck. Thankfully, I received other kinds of motivation from my coworkers and clients. Obviously, I LOVE PR, which is why I did it for free for an entire summer, but we all need to survive and pay bills, which is why some may be hesitant to take an internship.
If you really love PR and want to make a lasting career out of it, don’t be afraid to take an unpaid internship or an internship after you already graduated. We are a generation that wants instant results and doesn’t want to wait for anything. I know you think, “Hey, I have a college degree I should be mid level in a company within a year.” No, we all have to start out somewhere (usually the very bottom) and in this economy you can’t be too picky. Janet Aronica elaborates on this idea in her article, A Degree Isn’t A Job Guarantee. In her article, Aronica says, “College isn’t the golden key to success, it is a stepping stone.” Remember there are hundreds of thousands of college graduates each year and only a few great full-time job openings in every industry. “A degree doesn’t give you an extra edge in the job market when just about everybody has one. You need internships, real world experience.”
I know that in a perfect world we could all live at home and not worry about bills for awhile, but that is not everyone’s reality. You can do an internship, and have a side gig for some cash. That’s what I did, you just have to prioritize your time and make it work! To last in the fast-paced unpredictable world of PR you have to find a way to get things done and make the best out of what you have. Sometimes, your client’s budget may be limited, but they still want results or the traditional media isn’t interested in your story so you turn to bloggers and Twitter enthusiasts for coverage. Remember, all rewards are not immediate and all solutions are not easily seen.
After I finished my internship, I landed an excellent full time event planning job and a great freelance PR position. I found out about both jobs through my connections I made over the summer. Your internship may not pay you a lot or may not pay you at all, but you will get some serious benefits by sticking it out. Internships are great real-world experience; you learn so many things that could never be taught in a classroom.
Passing up an internship while waiting for the right full-time position can look like a BIG blank space on your resume. Try to have as few gaps as possible in your work history. An internship looks better than I was sitting at Starbucks sipping lattes and filling out applications for four months. And remember, if you can’t find a good internship there are plenty of nonprofit that could use your volunteer services.
Best of Luck to all of you recent grads in your job search! Remember to be patient, research companies and positions, and most importantly network!