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As a business student, it gets hard to escape professors, mentors and even peers chatting about how necessary and fundamental it is to gain internship experience within your college career. From personal experience, I know how conflicting this topic can be. I always felt like I would never be able to offer a company anything without a degree, and any work that I could provide would be insignificant. So, if this is where you find yourself, I’m here to bring you everything I took away from my first internship experience. 

Let’s start at the very beginning. I started applying for internships around last November, and my search was very narrow. I wanted something over the summer, preferably a paid internship, and I wanted it to focus mostly on communications and/or marketing. I was able to meet some of my expectations with the offer I ended up with, however, I quickly realized that when you’re looking for job experience, you can’t be picky. It’s important to find something that fits what your skillset and degree are, but you should also be appreciative of whatever experience you can gain before you graduate. 

After months of applying (and getting more rejections than I ever expected), I finally got an interview opportunity sometime in February. Long story short, after about three interviews, I was extended an offer. It was (for the most part) unpaid and began in April. Both of these factors were opposite of my initial desires, but I was thrilled nonetheless. After the relief of finally securing an internship opportunity, came the fear of incompetence. I was on Zoom calls with business owners, high-up marketing and media professionals. I spent a lot of my time working on and developing social media campaigns, content schedules and editing magazine content for approval. I had a lot of freedom with these tasks, so I gained plenty of experience in learning as I went, such as how to communicate with my supervisors when I needed an extra opinion or reassurance. 

One of the biggest things I learned from my experience was that I really had no idea what I was doing a lot of the time—and that was ok! I spent so much energy trying to hide the fact that I felt incompetent when in reality, the reason internships exist is to gain experience. To anyone worried about finding the perfect work experience opportunity, I would recommend taking any opportunity that you are given. For the most part, any experience and knowledge you gain will only end up helping you grow as a professional. So, consider taking the job that may not exactly fit your dream job description, and instead focus on what this opportunity will provide for you down the road!

Eileen Quinn

Illinois State '23

Junior at Illinois State University majoring in International Business, with a Spanish language endorsement.
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