As college students in the 21st century, we all understand the importance of internships. Every job coach, job website and career center employee on campus will tell you that internships are the key to post-college success. They give you real world experience, teach you things you’d never learn in the classroom and look really (REALLY) good on resumes. And in a time when there is an abundance of college grads and a shortage of post-college jobs, an internship is more important than an A in that random science course.
The problem is, though, that many of us don’t know what sort of internship to get. It’s hard enough trying to choose a major, but how are we supposed to know exactly what we want to do in life?
This was my problem last summer. I wanted to complete my credit-based internship during the summer so that I could devote more attention to it than if I were to do it during the school year. Of course the tuition was drastically more, but because of the “invaluable experience,” my parents and I decided it was worth it. Because of the frills and exciting nature, I was certain that a career in PR was perfect for me. After a couple of interviews, I selected the company that sounded the most glamorous. It was PR and event planning, and I was psyched.
Very un-traditionally, my internship did not start during the day in an office. I was to start interning at a club opening where the company was hosting a party for The Real Housewives of New York City. Sounds awesome right? Yeah, my bragging rights were valid. I won’t lie, my dress was awesome, shoes even better, and I was ready to go. The actual job, though, not so much. For the duration of the night, I was sent with a clipboard and pen to go around and collect names and information for a database. It was a club, it was loud, and I would have to initiate conversation with every person there. After the 50th attempt of a screaming “excuse me um, hi, um, yeah, excuse me (shoulder tap) can I just, um, get your name..um for this list” the task was not getting any easier.
As the intern, this was my duty at each event. And when I wasn’t hounding drunk people at parties, I was making phone calls. To hundreds of people. All day long. I was miserable. And after two weeks (of a 10 week gig) I realized that I would never have the personality or desire to go into PR. Unfortunately, after this realization, I had to return day after day for the rest of the summer, wasting both time and money on something I knew I would never pursue in the future.
It was frustrating and tiring and I wish there had been some way to know before I dedicated an entire summer of my life to PR hell that it was not the right fit for me. Wishful thinking, right? Well, maybe not. I recently discovered this awesome tool on Internships.com. It’s called the Internship Predictor and it’s a series of questions about your personality and interests. It takes about 10 minutes to do and allows the experts over there to generate a list of career interest areas suitable to you. The best part is that they really get to know you, your interests, personality type and values to recommend fields that really work for the person that you are.
Even if you have some idea of what you think you may want to do, the predictor still proves to be beneficial, as it may shed light on areas you never considered, or even offer a career field that you have never heard of.
Of course I wish I had seen this before I wasted a summer making phone calls, but maybe it can help some of you avoid the hell that was my summer of 2009.