Why internships really are worth it

Many college students associate the thought of an internship with high-stress levels. Who can blame them? The difficulty in finding an internship that truly captures your interest, the decision to search for the unicorn that is a paid internship, versus going the traditional unpaid route – stressful. Then comes the challenge of balancing an internship on top of your already-established responsibilities – school, employment, and social obligations. The resulting stress begs the question, is an internship worth it?

The unanimous answer among college students is YES! An internship yields experience, the opportunity to network, a nice addition to any resume, and maybe most importantly – grants you insight on if your future job field is all it’s cracked up to be.

Aligning your internship to what interests you

This past semester, I was fortunate enough to intern with Children’s Miracle Network (CMN), a non-profit organization that raises funds for children’s hospitals, medical research, and community awareness of children’s health issues. As an underclassman majoring in Public Health, this was just the chance I needed to discover if my passion for my major could hold up in the real world. During my time as an intern, I was given a wide range of tasks – not all of them considered “glamorous,” but each an opportunity to grow, and prove my work ethic and dedication to the job. Perhaps the greatest gift my internship offered me, was my boss, who became my mentor. Having someone to connect with in the field you aspire to be a part of, is one of the greatest motivators a student can have. Having a mentor who has “been there, done that” grants you a vault of endless knowledge. During my time with CMN, I was able to discuss my future goals with my boss, and discuss a possible timeline in which my goals could be achieved with her help. My boss knew of my desire to succeed, and as a result, worked with me to provide projects and assignments that I could add to my growing portfolio.

One of my favorite projects I was assigned was creating a “workbook” filled with Dance Marathon information that would be provided to high schools interested in creating their own “Mini Marathons.” I should mention that Dance Marathon is a program created by CMN used nationwide by colleges and high schools to raise funds for children’s hospitals, with 100% of the profits going directly to help and support local kids. The opportunity for me to have a part in shaping how this crucial information is shared with high schoolers – ultimately the next generation – was exciting and nerve-racking. Through this assignment, I learned how to create and publish content in a way that was both logical for high schoolers to understand, as well as aesthetically pleasing.  The assignment required a serious time commitment, as well as teamwork. I was taught how to use Photoshop and graphic design (two skills I had utterly been lacking before this internship). Long story short, I was able to complete the project with the help of a fellow intern and the guidance of my boss. The end result was a beautiful workbook that I look forward to seeing in the hands of many high schools.

My time with CMN gave me the chance to ask questions – both to my mentor, and to myself. I realized what I enjoyed doing and what talents I could bring to the workforce; I also picked up new skills and stories that I can bring to any future interview. I loved my time as an intern, and I encourage any college student to leap into their major and discover an internship that brings them excitement for what their future employment holds.

Haley_internship1pngHaley currently attends the University of Florida. She dreams of becoming an occupational therapist and working with our nation’s veterans.