The Importance of a Summer Internship

May 24, 2018

As a college student, it can be difficult to manage school, friends, and work. It is easy to forget how important it is to gain experience in your desired career, so most tend to overlook available opportunities to help them gain real-world experience in the work environment. It can be difficult to find a job after graduating from college, so employers want to see that you took the time to gain as much experience as possible before graduation. Internships are great opportunities to learn more about your desired career path, and can help you adapt to a work environment that may be unfamiliar to you. Although finding an internship can be difficult, most employers like to see that you have experience working for a credited company and can help you get the leg up on other competition.

I am currently attending the University of Dayton and I will be entering my senior year this fall, where I will graduate with my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design with a minor in photography. My teachers have always encouraged their students to seek out internships either before our junior or senior years so that we have some experience in our field before we graduate.

I have a lot of work experience compared to most of my classmates. Previously, I worked for Bath and Body Works and Taco Bell, and I am currently working at Marshall’s part-time. In addition to that, I do a lot of freelance work for friends and family—working on invitation designs and selling some of my designs on Redbubble. I also worked alongside Jay + Bee Photography, where I worked as their second shooter for wedding photography, as well as maintaining my own photography business on the side. Although I have a lot of work experience, I know that would not be enough to impress interviewers when I start to apply for jobs in the graphic design field. Most employers want two to three years of experience in your field before you even graduate, and I had only worked mostly retail jobs and was selling my designs to family friends. I knew that I had to step up and find better opportunities that could benefit my future career in the long-run.

During the end of my sophomore year, I began to apply for graphic design jobs on campus but had no luck. I decided to wait until the next summer to find an internship, and spend time building my portfolio. Looking back, I wish I had sought out an internship sooner because it would help me grow as a designer, writer, student, and worker. During my junior year, I decided to get more involved with school and look for graphic design opportunities on campus. I landed a job as the graphic designer for ArtStreet Café on campus, which is a subdivision of Flyer Enterprises—the third largest student-run business in the country. I was also inducted into Kappa Pi, an honorary art fraternity, where I was elected as the Recruitment Chair, and became very involved with our philanthropy. I was even featured as the Artist of the Month in the newspaper on campus, as well as getting a photograph published in the art and literary magazine on campus. All of these different activities helped me grow as an individual, and helped me add many lines to my resume.

Becoming more involved in activities and jobs on and off campus, it had pushed me to become better and strive for success. In searching for internships over the summer, it was difficult to find somewhere local that related to my future career. During this search, a friend of mine mentioned that she was looking for a marketing and social media intern to take over for her while she was on maternity leave at Chatfield College. Although it was not exactly what I was looking for, I figured that I could get a lot of experience from it, considering graphic design is in very close ties with marketing. I decided to apply for the internship and see where it led me.

After applying for the internship, I was called for an interview. While I did not have a lot of marketing experience, I had a lot of sales experience alongside my designing skills, and they saw a lot of potential in me. I went on to have a second interview with John Tafaro, the President of Chatfield. Although there were a lot of other applicants, I landed the job! My fellow classmates had internships with varying titles and job descriptions, proving that any internship can be great experiences, even if it is not particular to your degree.

In the short few weeks that I have been training at Chatfield, I have already learned so much. I have developed better communication skills, learned how to maintain a website, designed countless different flyers and advertisements, and have made a lot of connections along the way. Although this internship is not exactly what I was looking for in the beginning, I think that it is one of the best decisions that I have ever made. It has definitely pushed me beyond my comfort zone, allowing me to develop skills that I never knew I even needed. Having experience in marketing will make me more qualified for job opportunities in the future and give me an advantage among other competition.

Having an internship is an important step in a successful career path. Having experience in a real environment helps in gaining more knowledge than you could ever learn in a classroom. Even if your grades are not the best, having experience in your desired field is far more valuable. You are able to show that you are dedicated, because you spent an entire summer working, while most are off with their friends. If you want to gain more real-world experience, develop your communication skills, and gain connections, I highly suggest looking into finding an internship for the summer or during the school year. You can never have enough experience, even if it is different than your intended career path, and you might just end up falling in love with a different career than what you thought.

– Taylor Wilson

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