Why bother with an internship?
Dec 13, 2017
The decision to go back to school wasn’t an easy one (you can read more about that here). But now that I’m completing my first semester in the Digital Rhetoric and Professional Writing graduate program at Michigan State University, I’m answering a couple questions that keep coming up in my classes with undergrads.
Why an internship and how do I find one?
As an employer, I can give you the standard answers – internships provide valuable experience and connections beyond the classroom that can help get you started on a career path.
But in addition to that, let’s hear it straight from someone going through it now. Meet Claire McIntyre, a senior at MSU and current student strategist at P&G. She’s about to start her third semester with us, and can give us an idea of what kind of internship experience she was looking for and the impact on her career outlook.
Q: Why an internship?
A: To me, completing an internship in the field I want as my profession is crucial. I knew that I wouldn't have much luck in getting a job I want after graduation without having some experience. As a rising senior this past summer, I wanted to start gaining that experience even though it wasn’t required for school.
I bounced around the idea of staying in East Lansing for the summer, and knew that if I got the opportunity to work at P&G I would stay.
Q: Where did you start once you made that decision?
A: I applied all over the place (literally!) for a summer internship. I knew I wanted to work in PR but also applied to advertising agencies, just in case. The biggest challenge for me was trying to determine if I would have the opportunity to do meaningful work and feel fulfilled at the end of each work day.
Then, I found out about P&G through the MSU chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. I knew two girls who previously filled the desk I’m in now at P&G, and was able to ask them about the culture, work and overall mission. They both had nothing but great things to say about the agency and I thought it would be a great place to start my career journey
Q: How has your internship impacted you?
A: I have gotten way more out of it than I thought I would. I expected to be assigned small tasks, below an assistant account executive. Turns out, I was way off.
I draft press releases, social media and more – submitting materials that are sent directly to the client. I’ve attended client meetings, assisted with events and built a relationship with some of our clients. For example, throughout the summer and fall, we had events consistently for Shaping the Avenue. I was happy to assist most events and work closely with the public and our client which was a great way to heighten my professional connections and to see our months of planning and hard work pay off.
I am so thankful for the experience I’ve gained since it can only help me get a job come graduation.
Q: What would you say to a student thinking about pursuing an internship?
A: Take the leap and apply somewhere that you think will challenge you or even where you may not feel like you fit. Want to work in your dream city but are nervous to apply? Going out of your comfort zone is a challenge in itself. But, applying to a position in something you lack experience in provides a challenge that will without a doubt leave you with a priceless experience. I never saw myself as the type-A, PR-savvy intern that I turned out to be. Even if you don’t have experience in the exact field of the internship, apply anyway. Employers look for students who are eager to learn and are enthusiastic and curious.
Q: What additional skills have you gained or improved on in your time at P&G?
A: I definitely have sharpened my communication skills. I know to ask questions more often than not and to not be afraid to do so. Being more creative and confident in my own ideas and being fearless when jumping into what at first might be foreign language to me. I learn best by doing hands-on tasks and that is what PR is all about.
Q: What are you looking forward to as you’re about to start a new semester at P&G?
A: I’m excited to work a full year at P&G. I’ve learned so much, but I know there’s so much more. I love working with the P&G family and having them as coworkers, mentors and friends.
My goals are to sharpen my ideas and creativity, to challenge myself more and to push myself out of my comfort zone. I want to be more creative and confident in my own ideas, to really make a place for myself at the table. I learn best by doing hands-on tasks, and that is what my internship at P&G is all about.