Sunday, June 4, 2017

Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well.

I'm a working girl! I'm about to jump into my fourth week as the Communications & Marketing intern at the Greater Des Moines Partnership. Three weeks in, I feel like I have a good idea of what my summer in this position will look like, and I definitely think I'm going to learn a lot this summer!

Ever since accepting the position — and especially since starting the internship — I've been thinking about all of the internship experiences I've had in the last few years. My internship experience actually dates back to senior year of high school, when I landed not one but two internships for the year. I thought it would be fun to take a little stroll down internship memory lane and highlight the positions I've had.

My junior year of high school I applied for a program called School-to-Work. School-to-Work allowed seniors to take a term-length careers course and then enter the real world as an intern with an organization related to their career goals for the rest of the year. I was so excited to see my name posted on the instructor's window announcing that I had been selected with less than fifty other students to participate in the program, out of over 100 applicants.

In the class we learned a lot of the basics. We built resumes and wrote cover letters and practiced interview skills and acted out imaginary {sometimes uncomfortable} workplace scenarios. Throughout the class, Mrs. Heitland, the instructor, also spent a lot of time trying to figure out where to place all of us. There were a number of companies where she sent students every year, so these positions were easy for her to fill. Some of the companies included banks and realtor offices and corporations with more of a business focus. None of those were really for me...

I was the first student Mrs. Heitland had who was interested in journalism and writing. She really wasn't sure what to do with me. But she really took the time to call and email around, contacting people in her network who might have connections with places that related to my interests. I'm so thankful she didn't just place me in something she already had that was "close" to what I wanted. Nope, she worked so hard to help me find the perfect fit.

One day she told me she had a lead at a small newspaper in the next town over. I was so excited! A newspaper? How fun! The next thing I knew, I was heading into the office for an interview with the Editor-in-Chief, Allison McNeal. She was not what I had expected at all. She was young—just a couple of years out of college—and so nice and so stylish, sporting a leopard blazer for my interview. I left the interview excited to work there and get some good experience and portfolio pieces.

A few weeks later, Mrs. Heitland told me she had another lead for me. I was confused. Wasn't I already set to work at the newspaper, the Dallas County News? Yes, she told me. But I was allowed to have more than one internship. She'd had students in the past who had taken on two internships for the year and got a love of great diverse experience. A few days later I met with Brianne Sanchez, a young professional in Des Moines with a lot of network contacts and great experience. I remember leaving coffee with Brianne thinking how amazing she was. I felt that we were so similar and got along so well. I'm happy to say Brianne and I still keep in touch, and I gladly consider her a mentor of mine.

During coffee with Brianne, she mentioned a few people and a few places that might be of interest to me. At the end of our time together, we decided to shoot for a position at the Des Moines Public Library. Once again, I left so excited! I was obsessed the possibility of working at the library! A few days after that, I met with Jan Kaiser, Marketing Director at the Des Moines Public Library, for an interview. And again, we totally hit it off. Jan was so kind and fun and upbeat in our meeting, and I remember thinking how intelligent she was and just how great of a mentor she would be to me.

So there I was a few weeks later starting not one, but two internships as a senior in high school. I was so proud and so excited and just so ready to start working and gaining experiences. Looking back now, I was so young and so new and so shy. These internships really helped me come out of my shell and taught me how to work and work hard and work with people. I'm so thankful for these opportunities I had at such a young age. The School-to-Work program is such an amazing thing, and it continues to grow in Waukee.

Cut to college, and I didn't have another internship until my junior year. Last fall, as you may remember, I was a remote Editorial intern for Her Campus Media, the national branch of Her Campus. Again, it was such a great experience. I got to learn even more about working for an online magazine, and it was great to refine my writing and editing skills for a platform like this. Plus, it was so exciting to see my work published on the national site! I remember the huge smile I had on my face the first time it happened. (It was an article about the Gilmore Girls revival if you were wondering.)

And now here we are. It's the summer after my junior year, and I only have one semester of college left after this. These last three weeks have been full of all kinds of work: routing paperwork, sitting in on meetings about the new website, routing paperwork, editing and posting blog posts, starting on a big research project, and a bunch of other things in between. I can't wait to see what the rest of the summer holds!

What are some of your favorite work experiences you've had? Do you have any advice for me?

Lots of love,

Louisa May Alcott, "Little Women"