Let’s get right to it! College is an exciting and empowering experience. But schooling does not cease after class comes to an end. Recent graduates can, at times, overestimate their capacity to function adequately in a real world work environment. One can feel as though there is little that could take them by surprise due to the fact that the entirety of human knowledge has been effectively crammed into their brain over the course of a two- or four-year degree. Confidence in education is a wonderful motivator. Run with it! But consider this: there is an element of chaos in the workplace that academia can only dream of reproducing.
You, my friend, are going to make a mistake. Do not fret; we all do it. Love the mistake. Embrace it. Success cannot be realized without failure. And when you find yourself standing amid the smoldering ruins of your blunder, flummoxed, over-heated, sweaty palmed, and cursing yourself for failing to catch your miscalculation before it was too late, you will breathe a steady sigh of relief, for your internship has afforded you with a slightly larger margin of error. Interns are indeed expected to deliver, but not necessarily to the extent that battle hardened, seasoned professionals are. Typical intern duties tend not to include tasks that support the weight of entire projects. So when you make your mistake, there will not be large budgets attached, and you won’t blow the deadline. What’s more, you will be given the opportunity to learn from your mistake and correct the result.
Clearly, a large number of opportunities go unpublished. But if you are in the fray with people, the likelihood of you hearing about an opening is far greater than if you were, well…not.
Another commonly overlooked consideration is company culture. That is to say: ethos. In most cases, employers have less difficulty finding candidates with the necessary skills and a greater deal of difficulty finding candidates who are right for the culture. In the entertainment industry, especially, company culture is of paramount significance and an integral constituent to what makes a company’s product what it is. Creative organizations put a great deal of effort into identifying others who share their vision for the product being created. What then can furnish employers with the most insight into a candidate’s potential? Unfortunately a resume reveals precious little personality. The cover letter shines more light here. A face-to-face interview is where the initial decision is often made. However, nothing reveals a person’s character, knowledge base, and aptitude like working side-by-side with someone on a job site. The internship puts you there.
Know too that you can use the internship as your own sort of trial run with an employer. Not to say that you should take the decision lightly. A well thought-out and strategic pick regarding where to start will serve you well. Don’t go wasting your time or anyone else’s. Do your research. Familiarize yourself with the company’s website. Search industry publications for any articles written about the target business or its employees. This gathered data should bring valuable perspective and assist you in making the right call, as well as provide relevant talking points for your interview.
Finally, an internship could very well position you within striking distance of a potential paid gig, even if a job opening is not on deck at the start of your internship. Personnel needs often arise with little-to-no forewarning. Hiring from an intern pool often serves as a means to quickly fill a vacancy or to make additions. For some companies, it is a strict policy. So in all probability, the job you are looking for may not even make it to the job posting website that you check every day. [You are checking it daily, right?] Clearly, a large number of opportunities go unpublished. But if you are in the fray with people, the likelihood of you hearing about an opening is far greater than if you were, well…not.
So suck it up and take the plunge. Do the internship. And do not ‘work for free,’ but instead take it upon yourself to create value and manifest the type of [internship] experience that you long for. Build a relationship, build your resume, and get some on the job training. One could argue that in the context of a person’s long spanning career that this sort of experience gained has far greater value than a couple of bucks.