It was a long time ago, like 1999, long time ago when I graduated from high school. I really can’t believe it’s been that long. But, if there is one thing I want to stress to all of those in high school or college is the importance of interning.
You may have started to apply for jobs by now and if not, you will notice quickly that experience is always a prerequisite. You will think to yourself, well how can I gain experience if I can’t get the job to get experience? Here is where the importance of interning comes in and it can truly help you if you use it to your advantage.
When you intern, you are able to learn techniques, processes, skills, and work ethics that you can easily adapt to. It will put you at an advantage to those who didn’t go the intern route. Another great benefit of interning is that they are only for a specific length of time. You can gain the experience you need quickly without putting school or perhaps a paying job in jeopardy. While most intern jobs do not pay there are some that do. Besides it’s the experience that you’re really aiming to get while there.
Your teachers and guidance counselors are great people to reach out to about intern opportunities. Also, if you know someone who works in an industry where you would like to gain experience, reaching out to them for possible interning opportunity would not be a bad idea. You will learn fast in the working world that you have to be your own advocate and a lot of times you have to ask for what you need or for what could elevate you.
A teacher I had in the 9th grade recommended me for a two-week summer journalism internship at the local newspaper where I live. It was a great chance to get a taste of the working life and to learn the ins and outs of the office work environment. We worked on developing stories and learned to work together as a team. Team work is very important in most jobs these days. I didn’t get paid but I gained a lot of experience and it was a great look on college applications.
During the summer of 10th grade, I interned for six weeks on Capital Hill at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. This internship was presented to me by a family member who worked in the field. I was fortunate enough to have an aunt who lived in the Maryland area at the time and she was able to take me to and from my internship everyday. Here I worked as an assistant Monday – Friday; nine to five. I did all the calling, faxing, copying, running errands, typing, etc. It was a wonderful opportunity to be able to work on Capital Hill at 16 years old. I even learned how to catch a taxi in DC in 1997 when I was needed to deliver papers to a Congressman’s office. Uber didn’t exist back then and catching a taxi where I was from was calling the taxi and waiting for him to show up. In DC it was going outside and standing on the corner and waving a taxi down. I was learning how to be resourceful which I believe today is one of my best qualities. This too, was also great to add to my college applications. Initially, it was non paying internship, but the department I was working for gave me a $200 check along with a $200 gift certificate (yea, they didn’t have gift cards then either lol) to Dillard’s. Hey, that’s not so bad for a high school kid is it?
I would like to stress that it is important to treat your internship as if it was a “real” permanent job. You never want to leave a bad memory of yourself in someone’s mind, plus, they could possibly be able to write you a great letter of recommendation for college or a reference letter for a job. Be sure to take advantage of all opportunities that allow you to add to your personal development.