As the semester is winding down, so is my internship, sadly. Luckily, I will be back next year filling another role in the office. Here is a glimpse into my journey as a C&IS intern.
WHY I CHOSE TO INTERN
There are many reasons I chose to do an internship for credit this semester. Number one, I wanted to gain experience in a psychology related field to assess if I really wanted to go into this field. Number two, with all the other demands of being a college student, I knew if I didn’t have a class to help me set deadlines and keep on track in the process of actually getting the internship I probably wouldn’t prioritize it. In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would be interning in Career Counseling, I started my degree wanting to go into human services with children and families. Going through college, however, I started to get to know myself more, take on challenges, and grow. One of these opportunities was my role as a peer mentor for transfer students. After being involved with that program I realized that I was open to working with a broader range of people than only children and that I really enjoyed working with college students. I followed my interests, discovered this internship through the psychology department, and the rest is history.
WHAT I LOVED ABOUT IT
What I’ll miss most about it (at least while I’m gone over the summer) is the people. I spent about nine hours a week with the employees of the C&IS office and I loved getting to know them! The professional relationships you build with co-workers is important for way more than just networking. They are what makes up the work environment and office culture. Every workplace is unique. With C&IS office I think I hit the jackpot. The office is very open and welcoming, I would describe it as being a “professional family.” I looked forward to coming to work because I enjoyed the work I was doing and the people I was doing the work with. If I had one without the other it would have been incomplete. In the 40-hour-work-week world, office culture becomes even more important.
CHALLENGES AND ADVICE I WOULD GIVE MYSELF
The first few days in a new job are always a little nerve-wracking, soon enough though I got to know people in the office and settled into my role. At first, I wasn’t sure exactly what it would look like. Looking back on my experiences I would tell myself to jump into my role sooner even if I was a little unsure. I would also tell myself to ask about shadowing career counseling appointments and set them up earlier on in the internship.
Keep respectful communication between you and your supervisors, let them know what you are hoping to learn through the experience and collaborate on how to make it happen. Advocating for yourself is important, employees are busy and sometimes you need to ask if you could join in on something rather than waiting for someone to suggest it for you. And remember, you are there to learn. It’s fine to ask questions if you have them, just don’t hound people with questions.
Sometimes things are a little outside your comfort zone. Prime example: me writing for the C&IS blog. It can be tough to put your work out there for people to read, because who knows how it will be received. I also have never written for a blog before, much less one tied to an official organization. My advice would be to jump on those opportunities anyway because they could lead to something amazing.
Another main reason I wanted to intern with C&IS was to see if career counseling and/or higher ed were fields I could see myself going into in the future. What is the profession like? What is it all about? I learned there is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes on in a career counseling office, from setting up and attending job fairs, to classes and presentations, to making sure C&IS is providing their clients with the help that they are seeking. I also learned that there is so much to know as a career counselor and it is not possible to know it all. Which just means that if an answer is unknown they put on their sleuthing hats and help the client find the needed info.
Another thing to mention, we are not alone if we ever feel anxious about our career journey or what decisions to make. We are all in the same boat with that, and while career counselors can’t tell you what exactly to do with “the rest of your life,” they can certainly help you clarify what is important to you at this point in your life and assist you in assessing your options.
Internships can be a fantastic way to gain an understanding of what you want to do in your future career and even not so great experiences can teach you this as well. I really enjoyed my internship and I discovered that career counseling is something I could see myself doing in the future. It pushed me a little out of my comfort zone at times, helped me grow in confidence in my ability to navigate being a part of the professional working world and allowed me to meet some wonderful people and make some fond memories!
Of Possible Interest
- How to get the most out of your internship – US News
- Career Counselor – Occupational Outlook Handbook
- Internships – all of our blog posts on the topic
- Internships – our Pinterest board