There is not doubt that I’ve learned the most about the “real world” this term compared to other terms on campus. I knew I wanted to be part of the PDXSX the first term of my journey at University of Oregon – but nothing could prepare me for the overwhelming amount of growth and support I’ve received.
I thought I’d attempt to debunk some myths for students entering the so-called “intern life” and for those of us who plan to continue interning or searching for internships.
MYTH: “I’ll only be doing coffee runs and making copies.”
REALITY: I believed this myth for awhile. I was pleasantly surprised that I’ve been able to be part of decision making processes and company-wide projects. Not once have I felt like my work was unappreciated or pointless. Although internships may include some copying, invoicing, answering phones and other daily tasks , it is important to note that you can still reach out and offer to help out with new projects.
MYTH: “My supervisor’s role is to give me projects and evaluate me.”
REALITY: This is only a part of what your supervisor will most likely do. From my experience, a supervisor will also introduce you to new connections and help you develop your own projects you’d like to work on. Every supervisor has an individual way of working, though. For example, some supervisors organize meetings and dates to provide you with their feedback, whereas others only give feedback when asked. If you run out of work to do, that can be a good opportunity to reach out and offer your skills in new areas!
MYTH: “It’s pointless if my internship doesn’t turn into a job afterward.”
REALITY: Sometimes it takes a series of internships to receive an entry level position, especially in fields like advertising, PR and journalism. It’s great experience to bring to the table when you apply for other opportunities. If you make the most of the internship, you can also build your portfolio and expand your network. In the end, it may come down to timing. Just because the company doesn’t offer an immediate position doesn’t always mean you did a bad job.
MYTH: “The more well known the company is, the better the internship must be.”
REALITY: It depends – sometimes, in smaller companies, you can get your feet wet a bit more and be able to see your progress more clearly. From what I’ve seen, it’s more important to focus on what you’ve learned and the experience you’ve gained rather than what “big names” you can fit onto your resume. There are benefits to any sized company, so it’s best to keep your mind open.
MYTH: “The BEST internships pay the most.”
REALITY: If you’ve been an intern… you probably know that this isn’t always true. It’s not 100% about the money (and I argue that it is not about the money at all). Sure, being a paid intern is likely to be preferred, but you’re not about to bring in the salary of your dreams. Even an unpaid internship that allows you to have an influential role and grow as a professional could, in the end, benefit you more than you’d expect. I recommend looking at any pay or benefits as an “extra bonus”, rather than the main purpose for your internship.
Most of all – learn about yourself and what types of environments foster your growth the best. Best wishes to all who have participated in the Fall 2013 Cohort and to the students coming in spring! 🙂