Real World Experience: Why You Should Intern In College

College may be little more than a four-year party to some, but for many it’s a time to learn new things, meet new people, and live independently. Students tend to hold their undergraduate years in such high esteem that they often end up calling them the best four years of their lives. Yet upon graduation, many still feel surprisingly ill prepared to venture out into the “real world”. Even those students who graduate with a high GPA can feel overwhelmed by the pressures of the professional world, making them wonder if their academic accomplishments were ever worthwhile.

 If you’re looking for a manual on how to succeed in the real world, you have come to the wrong place. However, here’s one valuable piece of advice that may alleviate some stress once you graduate: find an internship.


  Interning in college is one of the most important things you can do to prepare for your future.  An internship can open up a variety of networking opportunities and can provide you with valuable work experience in your intended field. It may also help you in determining whether the field you’ve chosen is right for you. Sure, the typical life of an intern may not be the professional life you imagined, but for what it’s worth, you could be taking a small step towards landing the job of your dreams.

Getting a taste of the real world while you’re still in school may seriously pay off in the long run.

Whether it’s mastering a certain skill, learning how to interact with coworkers, or finding ways to score points with your boss, an internship is a great way to break into the occupation of your choice without dealing with the crippling pressure of a year-round job. As college students, our summer and winter breaks provide great opportunities to work full-time. While you may be tempted to sit at home and lounge around during your time off, do yourself a favor and go find an internship. You’ll be glad you did it.

Preparing for Graduation: It’s Never Too Early

graduationWhy do we go to college? To get a degree and get a job in a specialized field, right? It sounds like a no-brainer, but sometimes the purpose of college tends to be forgotten with all of the friendships students make and events they participate in. College is a social institution where as soon as you get your degree, you are out in the real world. It might seem daunting, but there are ways you can prepare yourself while you are still getting your education.

Take advantage of your school’s career services office and its members. They are there to help you! They can assist with resumes, cover letters and everything you need to get a job once you get your diploma. You don’t have to wait until you are a senior or close to graduating. Work on building your resume and cover letters from the start, and you will be a master by the time you are ready for your first post-college job.

Take advantage of every career fair, even if it is not at your campus. College faculty want you to get a job as soon as you get out. They want you to feel confident in your degree and put it to good use. A lot of universities will hold frequently host job fairs on campus. If yours doesn’t, check out another campus nearby that does! This is a good chance to get your name out there and network. Networking is the key to getting a great position after graduation.

Experience and resume builders are everything. Join societies and clubs dedicated to your field of interest. Seek out internships no matter what education level you are at. The more experience, the better. It stands out to employers that you are dedicated to your field, and are willing to work to make yourself stand out as a prospective employee.


Have any other tips for students anxious about joining the workforce after college? Let us know in the comment section below!


I’ve never used a GPS, or even owned one for that matter. In Kansas everything is built around a grid. In Philadelphia I don’t drive, I use the subway or have a friend drive me. I don’t get lost, and I rarely read street signs. There’s nothing like relying on handy dandy landmarks and familiar surroundings.

This summer I moved to Salt Lake City, and somehow my directional skills seemed to vanish.

Street names were different, intersections seeme wice as long, and to top it all off—there are mountains in every direction.

In short, my GPS has saved me. I’m still learning, but without it, the last month would have been torture.

But why does having a talking friend attached to my windshield make my commute more comforting? Why do I feel better knowing that Gabby, my Garmin, is leading the way?

In my mind it all comes down to surprise. Using a GPS takes the guesswork out of driving. When I need to go left, she lets me know. When I go the wrong way, she helps me turn around.

That doesn’t mean you should become complacent or let your GPS do all the work, but it does mean you can relax a little and not stress about where you’re going.

Any GPS, or any set of directions makes traveling easier and more direct. I for one hate highways. They scare me. Gabby knows me well. She gives me an alternate route. She also knows my favorite spots and memorizes where I like to go. Now that’s true love.

I’ll admit that it’s almost sad that I don’t know what people did before GPS technology. I know there was mapquest once upon a time. What was there before that? A compass? Did people really rely on good faith and sense of direction to get around? I wish those people could teach me a thing or two.

I’m not saying we should depend on a GPS- they aren’t fool proof, and of course it would be better to know naturally how to get around. But it’s not always that easy.

When I get lost, Gabby helps me get back on track. I just have to remember that she can’t do it all—I still need to be alert and focused. She is just my helper along the way!

Antsy Intern

You hate your summer job.

Now what?

Here I am in Salt Lake City—beautiful place. But, I’m lonely, I’m bored, and I live in an apartment with no furniture and work is slow.

Not exactly the glamorous resume bullet and experience builder that I was hoping for.

I’m under utilized, under challenged and searching high and low for ways to spice things up.

Are you feeling the same? I feel like it’s more common than us interns think but there is a way to fix it, so listen up!

You can’t suffer in silence. You need to communicate how you’re feeling and let your boss know. July is the perfect time—a halfway mark for some. Think of it as a mid progress report.

You owe it to your place of work to tell them what works and what doesn’t work in terms of intern responsibilities.

If you voice your concerns, or even suggest new ideas or projects you may be in an entirely different boat—one that you could end up loving to sail on. And plus, you have a whole month to experience new jobs and tasks—but only if you say something now.

If that doesn’t work and you’re still bored, or worse, sitting at your desk twiddling your thumbs, you can still take action.

Stretch your own limits and reach for what you know you’re capable of. If you have any creative leeway at all—try something new, or take a task and put your spin on it to show that you can be innovative and improve existing methods. However, if you feel under utilized you need to make sure you show your strengths, don’t tell them. No office, or job wants to hear you talk about how great you are—just put it into action.

And if all else fails, and you’re job isn’t likely to turn around anytime soon, look for the silver lining. For one, it’s only for the summer. You’ll head back to school soon and your job just will be one of your many experiences that helps build character—or at the very least can be used as a good story. Or maybe you love your co-workers and your summer intern disaster helped you land a new friend, or fling. Maybe your lunch break made everything worth it—I have a friend whose works caters lunch every day—yum!

There will always be things we love about our jobs, and then the things we could definitely live without. Make sure to voice your concerns early and never suffer in silence—and if you decide to, at least look for the good stuff intertwined throughout it all, it can’t be all bad.

New City, New Sites: Salt Lake Travels

When I moved to Salt Lake City for the summer I set big expectations for myself. I was going to be outdoorsy, hike, and climb mountains.

I’ve been here for a month.

I’ve barely seen the salt lake (Does from the plane count?!). I haven’t climbed any mountains. I have hiked or even seen any trails.

I’m clearly lagging behind.

Utah is beautiful—home to parks, mountains and wildlife. A photographers dream! Yet here I am, working full time and missing the “sites”.

Or am I?

I came here for an internship. I should definitely take advantage of the scenery. I have to. But just because I haven’t camped in the mountains doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced some of the best things about being here.

I’ve created a routine.

I go to work. I head to the gym. I shop for groceries. I drive around singing and dancing to Call Me Maybe while looking at the mountains.

Sounds like fun to me.

I will definitely do things more “Utah”. But I think it’s cool that I fit in. I feel like a local—I could really live here. I’m not site seeing or trying to fit everything in all at once.

I’m relaxed. I’m enjoying the scenery, even if it’s from a distance. (It’s hard to miss the landscape—just look out a window!)

Internships are semi-permanent. The work isn’t always fascinating but then again, there’s more to life than your 9 to 5. I’m learning that now by being here.

I know I’ll get around to everything else, but for now, I love the little things—Like making dinner (not from a dining hall), and going to dollar movies, and experiencing the heat, minus sticky humidity!

I have a month left here, I’ll be curious to see what takes priority—the sites, or the lifestyle.

Only time will tell!

The Eight to Five Adjustment

Summers used to be filled with sidewalk chalk and lemonade stands.

I miss them both.

But, when you’re in college summers change.

Sure they are still supposed to be fun—we all deserve a break after a grueling semester. But, nine times out of ten you won’t find a college student lounging around all summer eating bonbons. Summer means work—a job, an internship, maybe even more school.

Gone are the days when you can eat snow cones by the pool.

We have to get up early, look presentable and head into work. And the hardest part, some of us don’t get to wait until 9:00am. Those days are gone too.

In life, the early bird gets the worm. The same goes for work.

These days, offices open earlier and close later. For us, that means getting to work sooner, and potentially staying later. Are you ready for that commitment, can you handle the extra hour?

When I started my internship three weeks ago, I wasn’t sure if I could. The idea of being somewhere at 8:00AM seemed daunting. That’s early.

If I wanted to look decent I needed to wake up early enough to get ready, but I also needed time to eat, and drive to work. It seemed like my sleeping time was getting slashed. Plus, there was something about the sound of 8-to-5 that didn’t have the same ring to it as 9-to-5.  Every day is going to seem like an eternity.

I discovered that there is a trick to making it through the day. It’s all about your mindset.

You have to mentally prepare yourself for your week and schedule a little variety into your days.

Here are my top tips to adjusting to a regular workday:

1) Get Enough Sleep. You already have to wake up early, don’t make it worse by staying up late. No one in the office wants a groggy Gary on the loose!

2) Have snacks, or little things to nibble on at your desk. If you lose focus, or start to feel sluggish a little pick me up is the perfect way to get back on track.

3) Drink plenty of water. It leaves you feeling refreshed.

4) Break up your day into different tasks. Doing the same thing all day can get boring, not to mention make it easy to lose focus. Schedule blocks of time for certain tasks then move on to other assignments. If you don’t finish everything, you can always come back later.

5) Have a positive attitude. This goes back to mindset. Sure, sometimes you would rather be laying out at the pool, but make the most of you summer situation. When you are happy at work, and happy to those around you, time will move faster and your time in the office will be more enjoyable.





Why Internships Are Vital

Each year, millions of students graduate college with a bright future in mind, knowing that they have taken the first major step in finding a lifelong career. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will find that career in the next month or even the next year. A recent article published by USA Today stated that unemployment for college graduates is at its highest point since 1970. At the beginning of 2011, the Jobless rate for college grads was right around 5.1%. In that same time frame, there were 2.4 million people who were unemployed but had earned their bachelors degree or higher.

Things don’t seem very promising for people (like me) who are in their final semester of college. However, it’s important to understand that the unemployment rate of college graduates is less than half of the unemployment rate of non-graduates, which is currently hovering around 10%. Students who graduate with a Master’s degree or Doctoral degree aren’t immune to this phenomenon. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, In August 2011, 4.6% of graduates age 25 and up with a Bachelor’s degree or higher are unemployed. The fact that the group is made up of people ages 25 and up signals that most of that group completed or are currently working on post-graduate studies.

In today’s competitive job market, it’s particularly important to complete an internship or even more than one. Internships offer many benefits, such as experience, knowledge in a certain field of study, and meeting professionals in your industry. Not to mention that if you prove yourself at your internship, you could be offered a full-time job. If nothing else, you will more than likely find references who can help you take your next step forward on your career path, whatever that might be.

Some Internship’s are unpaid, however whether paid or unpaid, they provide essential knowledge and experience, and contacts to add to your resume. Interns provide a company with fresh faces, prepared to do any kind of work and do it right. Some majors require internships as a graduation requirement, which is a good thing if you ask me. It can’t hurt a student or recent graduate to gain valuable working skills and experience, while along the way meeting professionals who play a fundamental role in a workplace community.

The bottom line here is that Internships are a way for young people to get their foot in the door in an industry. They are a good way to provide young graduates and soon-to-be graduates with the things necessary for finding a job in these tough economic times.




I’m reading New Perspectives on Microsoft Office 2010 

Unpaid Internships

Unpaid internships are a great way to get experience in your field of study. They are also a good way to get a step ahead of other graduates.  Over the years, I have participated in several unpaid internships. Some were glorified grunt work positions. Others were great opportunities–I got to take pictures at the Kentucky Derby which were later published in an international magazine. I think unpaid internships are wonderful! However, not everybody has the means to work for free. I’ve had several friends pass up unpaid internships to wait tables. Can you really blame them? It’s darn near impossible to completely live off financial aid/student loans. Unfortunately, my friends will be at a disadvantage when it comes time to find a “big boy” job.

Unpaid Internship

Should I feel bad that I am able to take an unpaid internship?

I’ve been heckled for taking unpaid internships in the past,  “You are so spoiled because your parents pay for everything. You don’t even have to get paid for your work.” These ludicrous statements make me want to scream. I would never walk up to a person who is paying their own way through college and say, “Your parents are lazy bums because they don’t have enough money to help you through college.” It is just cruel, and in my opinion both of these statements hit below the belt. Yet people continue to belittle me for coming from a wealthy family; I don’t think it is something that should be held against me.  The reality is that I have worked consistently since I was 15 years old. My first job was at Subway and I spent an entire summer making sandwiches for thousands of people. I’ve had a healthy stream of part-time jobs since then and I don’t plan to stop working anytime in the future.

I have had  several unpaid internships while I have been in college.  I have worked for a photographer, a magazine and now a textbook company. Each internship has taught me something new and useful that I can take with me for the rest of my life. Why should I feel even a little guilty for taking the opportunity to get this experience? What good is a crappy minimum wage job that has absolutely no benefit for my future career? I can understand how some people may see the world of unpaid internships as an unfair advantage for students who are more fortunate. But I also think it is totally unfair that people are judged for taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them. If you’re able to, why wouldn’t you get the experience needed for your dream job?

Although I have been the subject of friends’ ridicule, I have never felt guilty for taking advantage of unpaid internships. While some of my classmates are graduating with no experience in their chosen field whatsoever;  I am able to graduate with REAL job experience. Whether my internships have paid off or not–it remains to be seen. I graduate in the fall and hope that my internships will give me the resume experience I need to get my dream job.



I’m reading Elementary Statistics

Are You Still Looking for a Summer Job?

Don’t Panic!  If your bank account is still in the green, you don’t necessarily have to move back in with your parent yet.  And if you do have to cross that bridge, we have another blog post coming soon about how to deal with that mess.  Parents are great… to visit.

Finding a job is a numbers game.  It’s more like fishing with a net than a pole.  Even in a mid-sized town there are thousands of businesses with multiple departments.  Law offices, banks, manufacturers, corporate offices of restaurants, financial advisers, consultants, research positions and doctor’s offices, to name a few.  At this point you can’t afford to be picky, so branch out (your mom’s probably not going to do your laundry anymore now that you’re all grown up, you may as well apply for that less-than-stellar job).

I want to pass along some advice I got from a hugely successful class-action lawyer to give you an idea of how aggressive you can be in your search, without taking massive amounts of time.  You want the highest Return on Investment with your efforts.  Here’s the advice I received:

Dear Robin,

If I were you, I’d mine family contacts first to see if they have connections; then, conduct a mass-mailing campaign to every law firm stating that you’re “very interested in (area of law they primarily practice)” with your resume attached, and follow-up by phone to see if you can talk to them when you’re back in town. Also, are there any Alumni connections down there?

Good luck!


You may want to think about using this strategy: forget sniping at this point with super-tailored resumes and go for a scatter-shot approach that covers as much ground as possible.  This approach is for every industry, not just law offices.



I’m reading Living With Art