As I approached the stage of the Prudential Center on graduation day, several thoughts and emotions echoed throughout my mind. However, as my name was called and I received my diploma, one thought continued to ring louder than all the others: What am I going to do now?
After spending the better part of my life in classrooms, graduation day finally marked my entry into the “real world.” So naturally, as any recent college graduate does, I began vigorously applying to any and every full-time, entry-level position that I came across. That’s the strategy many of my friends and peers adopted, so I should follow their lead, right?
Well, I soon had the epiphany that while this technique may work for a lucky few, this arbitrary job search method would not help me build the career I had worked toward in college. As I sent out countless job applications to a blur of companies about whom I knew nothing, I quickly began to realize that accepting the first random job offer I came across would not set me on the path for long-term success. So, determined to use my skills and communications degree in a meaningful way, I narrowed my career search to public relations internship positions in my area.
Initially, I faced some backlash from friends and family when I shared this change of heart, as many questioned why I would opt for an internship over a full-time position. However, I stand by my decision to exclusively apply for and subsequently accept an internship position as a post-graduate. Here’s why:
- Any career worth having is not going to just fall in your lap once you graduate. No matter how high your GPA was, how many clubs you joined, or even how stellar your writing skills are, no offer will present itself to you on a silver platter. This may be a glaringly obvious insight, but when you’re in the bubble of college life, sometimes a reality check is necessary.
- A full-time internship is like a test-drive. In college, students have four short years to learn about a discipline and determine if they would like to pursue a career in that field, all while sitting in a lecture hall and never truly experiencing the industry first-hand. As a full-time intern, you learn about day-to-day operations and long-term business objectives, pick up on nuances you can’t study in textbooks and even become acclimated to a 40-hour work week.
- You don’t feel trapped. The only thing worse than applying to jobs at random is accepting job offers at random. You may get caught up in the excitement of that first “real” job offer; however, it is crucial to deeply consider what you may be agreeing to when signing across that dotted line. Multiple friends of mine have entered into year-long contracts at jobs that are not the right fit for their personalities, skills or aspirations. By opting for an internship prior to accepting a full-time job offer, you can test the waters and truly determine whether you are on the right career path.
- It shows you’re focused. If you’re determined to land that public relations or marketing job, accepting a temporary human resources position may be a step in the wrong direction. Multiple internships in your desired field prove to prospective employers that your career is on a straight trajectory and you have an idea of where you see yourself five or even ten years down the line.
- You get your feet wet. No one is going to hire you without experience. Well, they might, but there’s a high probability that it will not be for a job in your desired field, much less that the position offered will put you on the right track for your dream job. A degree is certainly a necessity for those newly entering the workforce, but hands-on experience, especially full-time, is equally invaluable in many industries.
For anyone considering a post-grad internship, it’s not a downgrade but rather, a learning process and a stepping stone on the path to your future career. If you’re interested in launching your post-graduate career in public relations or digital marketing with a dynamic, full service agency, explore R&J’s current internship opportunities.