The stereotypical internships where you exist solely to grab coffee, mop floors, and restock the fridge are definitely out there. Trust me, I’ve been there. But you might be thinking, Eh, I’ll suck it up for a couple weeks because it’ll all be worth it when I get to put it on my resume right?
Well, believe it or not, there’s actually more to a person then the carefully crafted bullet-point fragments they construct on a Word document. Our personalities are not perfectly correlated to how accredited our university is, and we are certainly not just a number between 0 and 4. All of this effort isn’t about just landing some job, it’s about building relationships and skill sets that you can use to actually make a career and then excel even further up the ladder.
So when your future boss sees that internship on your resume, that you worked there for the whole summer, and made up some bullet points of tasks you pretended to do, what are you going to tell him you learned? What skills did you gain from that internship that will benefit his company? And most importantly, what sets you apart from the thousands of other college students who spent their summers the same exact way. Coffee. Cleaning. Re-stocking.
“I implemented various strategies and expanded my organizational techniques for daily activities.” Translation: I figured out how to fit 10 sodas into the mini-fridge, instead of the usual 7.
So I’m here to save you some trouble. If you find an internship that gives you the opportunity to learn, experience new things, and start building your career, great! If not, find one. I did. I actually found two. While I was at it, I also found some side work for promoting a new up-and-coming artist and her shows.
The secret? Well, it depends on your location. Find out about the town you’re trying to work in. For me, it’s Nashville, Tennessee—a lively city with a small town feel, where you can listen to live music at any time of the day and sip coffee among some of the world’s most talented singer-songwriters. On a broader spectrum, living in the South was almost a culture shock for this Pennsylvania girl. Where I grew up, if you weren’t 15 minutes early, you were late. Back home, everything had a deadline, a time limit, and an undeniable sense of urgency. Here in Nashville, the work is definitely completed. But it’s done in such a passionate way that really leaves an impression on you. Businesses here actually care to treat every project like it’s their own. They create relationships with their clients, coworkers, and even other businesses. Everybody knows each other. Everybody is connected. It was with this realization that started my journey.
A friend of a friend (also just 21 years old) had another friend who had an opportunity for concert promotion. I made a couple calls and, just like that, I was having coffee with singer-songwriter Lizzy McAvoy. Next thing I know, I am introduced to the Vice-President of the Grand Ole Opry and another singer-songwriter who had written songs for Hunter Hayes. A simple phone call can make the difference. Okay, 30 simple phone calls can make the difference.
“Squeaky wheel gets the grease.” This was a quote my dad told me while I was applying for internships. If the wheel isn’t squeaking, it’s not getting the grease. It’s not getting any attention. If you’re not following up with HR, calling businesses for a 3rd time, leaving messages, sending emails, setting up meetings, or grabbing coffee with industry professionals, you’re voice won’t be heard and your talents will go to waste. These people need to know you are genuinely ready to get down to work and, even more importantly, they need to know you have something that will benefit their company that the next person simply just can’t provide.