Everyone knows internships are great – you get experience in your field to put on your resume and now you’ll get hired right out of graduation and the world is perfect! Right? Well, not always.
During my sophomore year, I decided to add a second major to my existing English major, Professional Writing. I got an internship shortly after, working with a Duluth-area nonprofit writing articles to be published in a local newspaper concerning their work. It sounded perfect.
I was excited to start my internship, prepared to do what I loved as only a sophomore. But, I found that I kept putting off my work. I would set deadlines for how much writing I wanted to get done by certain days, and I hated when those deadlines came up and I’d have to actually do the work. I told myself it was just because I was busy, I was doing so much writing for class already, and who likes working anyway? I tried so hard to love it, but I just didn’t.
As much as I thought it would be my thing, it just wasn’t, and try as I might, I couldn’t change that.
Enter what I refer to as my “quarter-life crisis.” When I finally figured out I couldn’t do what I was certain was in my future, I felt totally lost. I was so set on being a writer. What was I supposed to do then?
When panic set in over my complete lack of direction, I unloaded my concerns on those who knew me best in search of some guidance, and ended up realizing I was more interested in work that was more people-focused and would allow me to help them more directly. I declared a psychology major and art minor, and I couldn’t be any happier with my decision to do so.
I didn’t love that internship I truly believed I would, and I didn’t love studying the subject I thought would be my future. I felt lost and worried I would never find something I was passionate about. But you know what? I did.
I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity I had to experience that internship. Without it, I might still be studying English and writing without completely enjoying it. I might have graduated with those degrees, gotten a job in that field, and hated it. I don’t know what I would have done next, but I’m so glad I don’t have to know.
So here’s my advice:
- First, say yes. Try as many different experiences as you can. Work with different people, doing different things, and in different environments. Keep on trying new things and never stop moving. You never know what an experience will bring to your life.
- Second, find something to take away from every experience. Whether it’s learning what you do or don’t like, making a new friend or building your network, or just learning how to fail and then bounce back, it’s worthwhile. Don’t discount your experiences, don’t regret them, and learn from them.
- Third, don’t panic if you feel lost. College is a time to feel lost. If you don’t feel lost at some point, you’re probably doing it wrong. Stay optimistic, power through mental breakdowns if and when they happen, and turn to others when you need to. If you can’t figure out what you like or who you are, ask someone who knows you well. Find someone to be lost with you – your Wilson, if you will (Cast Away, anyone?).
- Fourth, if you have to convince yourself to like it, you don’t really like it. When you truly love something, you just do, you don’t need to trick yourself into it. Don’t be afraid to let your experiences change your plans.
You might not enjoy every experience you have, but every experience is still worthwhile. If you learn to say yes to the opportunities you’re offered and try things out, the knowledge you can gain is invaluable.
Of Possible Interest:
- Be a Good Intern
- Learning from my Internship Experience
- How to Target Your Resume for Internship Applications
- Evaluating Your Experience (Navigating a disappointing internship)