Why Taking Every Internship Opportunity Will Help You Down The Road

Haley Vannarsdall is a 2012 graduate from the University of Indianapolis with a degree in Communications/Journalism and a minor in International Relations. She currently works for a CPA firm in Indianapolis, Indiana as a Marketing Assistant. Life after college includes two vacations a year (usually to somewhere warm), two shelter dogs and finding the next adventure in life!

At a very young age, my parents instilled work ethic, and taught me that I have to work for the things that I want. Because there were a lot of things that I wanted out of life, I got my first job at 16, and haven’t stopped working since. I held up to three jobs at once while going to college, and had an internship every semester beginning sophomore year. After moving an hour and half away from my home town to attend college, I knew that it might be difficult and daunting finding a new job. It took a couple of months, but I got my first college job at a daycare. A few months later I picked up another babysitting job along with the responsibility of writing articles for my school newspaper. My sophomore year I received an email from my campus career services about an internship at a local newspaper. I jumped at the opportunity, and applied immediately. I received a phone call and landed the job. Even though I didn’t receive college credit for my first internship, I did get paid and my first real-world opportunity outside of my college newspaper. I was extremely nervous and wanted to make a great first impression at my internship, so I picked up extra articles that needed to be written, and would even pick up photo assignments that editors did not want to do. I got to interview a couple of celebrities, and had my first published articles at age 19. Later in the year I applied for an editor position with my college newspaper and landed a new title as Feature Editor for the university.

I believe that my experience with my first internship helped play an integral role for my position as Feature Editor. The following year as a junior, I was eligible to receive 8 credit hours for a full-time internship (40 hours a week). I knew that I wanted to gain more experience, so I applied to an internship back home in the local mayor’s office. This internship was different than the one at the newspaper, but this time I got to interact with public officials, help organize events and work as a sort of public relations intern for the city hall. At the end of the summer, I realized that journalism did not have to be my focus. I could apply knowledge I had learned from other classes to be a successful intern in a different atmosphere. By the time my senior year rolled around, I already had two completed internships under my belt. I hadn’t planned on doing another internship, because I wanted my senior year to be as stress-free as possible. However, I received an email from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security for a position within their public information offices, and agreed to an interview.

Although the internship was not paid, and I could not receive college credit, I knew that it would give me another well-rounded experience. I interned for four months helping write articles for their online publication, wrote press releases, created public safety flyers and even helped put together a disaster binder that was later recognized by FEMA. Two months after my internship, around February of my senior year, I received a phone call from my previous boss at the Indiana Department of Homeland Security for a full-time position to start in March. Even though I was still in school and finishing up my degree, my boss was very understanding and let me work around my school schedule and study time. Because I had taken this internship, even though it was unpaid, I had a job offer before many of my other graduating friends.

If I had not taken every single internship opportunity that came my way, I don’t think I would have found a job after college as quickly as I did. Even though a lot of students have the luxury of not working while in college, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take a job or internship to show initiative to future employers, and also gain industry skills that would not be obtained any other way. My experience as an intern gave me experience that a classroom couldn’t teach, and for that I am forever grateful!

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