The Real Life Story of a (Once) Struggling Intern

It is a well-known fact around the college world that to get a job in today’s job market, you have to have experience. What’s the best way for a college student to get experience? Internships. Internships come in all shapes and sizes. They could be five-hour-a-week office help, 40+ hours working events for the stars, paid and unpaid, or nights and weekends.

I have had five internships. Now, just to set the record straight, I haven’t worked for the stars or organized any great parties for clients. I’ve worked those five-hour a week jobs, those weekends no one else wants to work, those 4:30 am wake-ups to make sure the media is all set for their live shots, and those days that are fueled by nothing other than coffee.

My five internships have happened over a span of a year and a half. I started with my aunt as an administrative assistant then moved to an on-campus office that needed a lot of help. I searched for an opportunity that fits in with my degree and landed at the Minnesota Zoo as a marketing and sales intern. Knowing that I wanted more experience, I spoke with my family and friends. Through a connection my aunt made, I found Gaslight Creative, and now serve as their social media/copywriting intern during my senior year. As I moved back to school, I decided I needed a job that would give me some “fun money” and found my last internship with another small marketing firm in downtown St. Cloud.

Through my journey, and the different experiences I’ve had, I’ve learned that college is all about learning, struggling to buy next week’s groceries, and staying up way too late. Ordering pizza, forgetting to read that chapter in your management book, and learning about yourself and your strong work ethic. This whole internship experience has given me the knowledge that I use to help countless students apply for jobs and internships. I give them the same advice I give to you below.

The Top Five Tips for Finding an Internship

1. Always ask the family if they need any help. Even if it isn’t in your degree field, getting experience in a professional office setting will set you apart from a large chunk of your peers.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask. You never know when a DIY internship could come about. Remember, “What’s the harm in asking? The worst (insert company or scary boss lady’s name here) will say is NO.” (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

3. Don’t be discouraged if your 25 applications all get rejected, and try for all opportunities. Unpaid internships aren’t always the worst.

4. Network, network, network. You never know who you’re sitting next to on an airplane, or who your family may know. Talk to your friends and family about opportunities you may be looking for – they may just get you your next job.

5. Take a walk on the other side of the road. Take the opportunity to learn something new. Get a well-rounded experience that will make you the perfect, hard-to-turn-down candidate.

No matter how many times you get rejected or feel defeated, always remember that you can do this. Get back up and fight for the next opportunity. Always have that spark of interest to keep looking, because the perfect job will come your way. Always keep a goal or dream job in mind. I don’t care how you have to do it, put sticky notes around your house, write it on your hand, write a song about it, whatever! – just remember your goal. That dream job is waiting for you, and this little roadblock is bringing you one step closer to reaching it.