This story comes to us from NBC Latino.
If you are in college, a summer internship can be a huge stepping stone for your career. Not only does it help you figure out what you want to do after college, it helps your résumé immensely. An internship gives you direct experience in your chosen career path. You learn from professionals in the field that want you to succeed and learn as much as possible. Some internships are paid, and some are not. Even if you are not paid, what you gain from your bosses and co-workers is invaluable.
Landing a summer internship, however, can be totally unfamiliar – and daunting – to college students. How do you even find an opportunity? How should you present yourself? NBC Latino interns Kelly Carrion and Brian Latimer share their tips, stories and experiences while working with the team, so you can start planning your next summer!
How did you find this internship?
Kelly: As soon as I realized I wanted to work in journalism all my efforts went into reaching that goal. To get my summer internship I first looked at companies I would love to work for and started by applying there. I also went to my school’s alumni network and contacted a few professionals who were in my field of interest and talked to them about my hopes and accomplishments. I eventually got a contact through one of them. Don’t hesitate to use all of your resources in order to get your foot in the door.
How did you land this internship, and how was your interview?
Brian: I was almost too meticulous when preparing for my interview. You want to know about the company you want to work with. When you’re doing that, you should anticipate questions and practice your answers. Because I was applying for a news website, I tore through newspapers for weeks in case the interviewer asked me about any current events. (And she did!) Also, you want to show up well dressed and rested. The last thing an employer needs is a frazzled, exhausted intern. Remember to ask questions too. There is no shame in curiosity. Above all, be yourself. As long as you are comfortable, you’ll appear more confident. Confidence is what every boss is looking for.
How did you present yourself on the first day?
Kelly: The first day was very nerve-wrecking because I did not know what to expect. I wore a skirt, flats and a blazer with a nice shirt. When I got to the office I began to get a notion as to how people dressed on a daily basis and then began to adapt. The first day, I feel, it is better to be overdressed than underdressed.
What role did social media play in your experience?
Brian: Social media dominated my internship. Because I worked for a news website, I was constantly scouring Twitter and Facebook for any breaking news stories. If I wasn’t searching, I was posting my articles and my co-workers’ articles to spread our stories as much as possible. Facebook and Twitter became an outlet for my opinions on the news rather than my daily coffee mishaps.
I also learned that the internet is permanent. I most definitely learned to think twice before posting something. It would be embarrassing to post something that embarrasses your boss or company, or makes you look unprofessional.
How were your relationships with co-workers?
Kelly: During your internship I think the most rewarding relationships are those with your co-workers and your fellow interns. I learned so much from each and every one of my co-workers because each had different knowledge sets and skills to offer me. You’re in the office for a short summer, take advantage of it. Also, befriend interns; who knows, maybe someday they could be working with you again.
How did you balance not being paid?
Brian: To fund bus fair and food, I took on weekend jobs and even sold some things on Craigslist. I called my old bosses and asked if they had room for me on a Saturday. I worked at a summer camp and cleaned my relatives’ houses. With that money, I was able to mostly pay for tickets and lunch. Luckily, we were reimbursed for some of our travel costs. With that extra bit of cash I was able to see movie premieres and spring for iced tea instead of water.
What will you do now that the internship is over?
Kelly: I am even more motivated to keep writing. Internships help you realize if what you want to do is truly your passion. I realized that journalism is certainly mine.
Once I’m at school I will look for websites and newspapers I can try to contribute to. Also, another important thing I’m going to do is keep in touch with my mentors. Even though you are off to school again do not forget the people that helped you throughout the summer. Shoot them an e-mail once in a while.
Brian: My internship may be over but I will definitely incorporate the skills I have learned into my education and extracurricular activities. I was lucky enough to realize my career path over the summer. Now I will go to school as a seasoned writer and more than ready to contribute to a news source or blog.
I connected with my internship family. I don’t feel like the internship is over. The experience prepared me for my career so all that I learned will stay with me. I developed relationships with my coworkers. I feel like I can contact them whenever I have questions or just to catch up. This internship is just the beginning to my career!
Brian and Kelly are interns at NBCLatino.com
All statements and opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors, and not of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation or NBC News.