THE BENEFITS OF INTERNSHIPS
“Be empowered to do so.”
According to Merriam-Webster, Internship is “a period of undergoing practical instruction in one's job or career.” A lot of people are opposed to internships as many are unpaid or feel they are waste of time. Many would get any type of entry-level job to get extra cash, gain some experience and cruise by through this chapter in their life. A lot of people think an internship is just a position to make coffee for the office. One will ask, "How does making daily coffee runs benefit my career?"
Many universities and colleges have incorporated internships into their curriculum as a graduation requirement. In order to graduate, students must undergo an internship based in their industry. Either it serves as academic credit or a supplement to their curriculum. For many of you who are in the beginning stages of your college degree, or even near the end, I am sure you have stumbled upon the word "Internship" from conversations with your advisor, browsing your curriculum, or hearing about them in career fairs. Many students neglect to prepare for this experience and coast through their internship experience just to complete their credits and graduate on time. An internship is an important stepping stone in your career. Paid or unpaid. Making coffee or not, it is essential to get any work experience you can get.
When I was in college, my university's curriculum requirements to graduate was completing an internship. At that time, I had no real-world work experience in the industry that I was studying. I had no experience in how to prepare for interviews, meetings or working with different types of people on a daily basis. My internship program was the best that any career-oriented college student could ever dream of. My program was able to place me with companies within my industry, so I was not working at random companies that had no relation to my career goals. The company I was able to work for as a Sales & Marketing Intern cared about the growth of not only their employees but their interns. They were a diamond rated hotel in Miami and it was an experience as soon as you entered the lobby. It felt glamorous to work there. At the beginning of the internship program, the Human Resources team would sit down with all new interns and discussed their career goals and interests. From there, they can assess what department is the best match for the student. When I shared my love for event planning, they discussed they would place me in the Sales & Marketing department. At first, I was turned off as the word "sales" and "marketing" as it did not sound appealing to me. I thought to myself, what was I going to do there? Math? Pie charts? Graphs? Boring!
During my time as an intern for the Sales & Marketing department, I worked under the Sales Manager who oversaw some of the social events for their corporate clients and groups. Little did I know that she would be my mentor, and now my friend. I learned so much in my time there. She took me to all her sales meetings where I was able to shadow and observed how she carried herself, how she spoke to clients and how to do business. She taught me how to set up a showroom, how to interact with each client, how to do manage the sales and event computer systems, and how to professionally answer the phone and take messages. I learned how to walk, talk and thrive in that environment. Although my internship did not consist of making coffee daily, I still was doing a lot of the "dirty" work and learned from the ground up. She was such a great mentor and I felt inspired every day to do my best. Every day, I was so happy to be there. I was a hungry college student excited to dive into the real world hoping to someday be just like her. I would come back to campus after a work day and share my day with classmates all giddy (#nerd). I treated my internship like it was a paid job. I respected my job, my mentor, the company, I fell in love with that company. I knew I was in the right industry and on the right path in my career.
One important work ethic that I learned from my internship that definitely molded me into the professional I am today, was something that the General Manager of the hotel communicated during a mandatory staff meeting. Besides the unlimited free hot pretzels passed around the meeting room, the meeting was a stepping stone in my career. The general manager took a moment to reiterate the company culture. He advised all employees to feel empowered. No matter if you were a housekeeper, an intern, a coordinator or a bellboy, he advised all staff to take the initiative to provide the best experience to every person that walks into the hotel. If you see a guest not feeling well, offer to send out a complimentary bowl of chicken noodle soup. If someone has a birthday, surprise the guest with an amenity in the room. Do not wait for the manager to approve simple gestures that will make the guest feel at home. Be empowered to do so. I would not be who I am today, professionally and personally, if it was not for my internship experience.
So, to those of you who are wondering if you should do an internship, the answer is YES. There should be no self-doubt. Work with your advisor in picking the right company and program. Explore the company's mission and vision, and take advantage of programs and companies with internal growth and additional opportunities for interns. This is your stepping stone. Select a company that you feel proud to be at, even if it means making coffee for the CEO. That CEO could be your next mentor and the person who sees the fire in you who can teach you how to grow into the best professional and person that you can be. Even if the internship is unpaid, take the opportunity if you can. If you are not paid to do something, but yet still show up every day, you will know for sure you are on the right path in your career. Money should not be the only incentive that gets you up every day to work. You should look forward to every experience there and be grateful that you have the opportunity to do so. It is a humbling experience with so many stepping stones and doors for you open that benefit your interpersonal and professional growth. This is a way for you to test if your passion meets your purpose.
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ABOUT YOUR MARKETING BARTENDER
Lucy Capul is the Creative Director of Old Fashioned Marketing & Consulting. Lucy’s background in Hospitality Management concentrating in Special Events and Marketing has lead her to create a platform for start-ups, entrepreneurs and businesses to gain support and resources for their business. Old Fashioned Marketing & Consulting was created to take away the work load of any working professional where they have the opportunity to have a professional virtually run their marketing behind the scenes, so they can have their drink and drink it too. Lucy’s experience in the corporate world has lead her to realize that the world glorifies the chaotic and busy lifestyle of a typical hard working professional. Lucy is an avid supporter of taking the time to “namaste” away from the work day and making time for friends, family and a little bit of whiskey, promoting a work-life balance. The Bar Babble blog was created to provide resources for like minded professionals to succeed in their professional and personal lives and also for students or anyone who wants to jump into the marketing world. Bar Babble is that time and place after a long day where you can be unapologetically unfiltered and babble about the highs, the lows, tips and tricks that no one talks about. Let’s get a little “whiskey”, and let’s Bar Babble.