Internships are one of the few ways to get your foot in the door and land a job after graduation. I stress the importance of internships to literally everyone I come across. Seriously, I talk to strangers at the bus stop, people on Twitter, my family, etc etc about why you need to have internships.
I get asked a lot, how did you land your internship at CNN? I tell them I did a few unpaid writing internships for small companies and built an online portfolio website that showcased my work. Then I was able to get NBC and then CNN. What I’m now beginning to realize is how darn important those internships at smaller companies were. Not only were they stepping stones, but they were one of the most pivotal components to my career trajectory.
BIG NAMES, LITTLE WORK
If you’ve been a reader or follower of my blog, you know I’m honest. To be completely frank, I don’t think I contributed that much as an intern at NBC or CNN. Yes I worked hard and tried to go above and beyond in everything. But I learned very quickly that at big corporations the chain of command is solid and working on major projects as an intern rarely happens. On the other hand, when I worked for this small reality T.V. company, I got to interview cast members on the Real Housewives and practically everyone on VH1. I got to own my stories and had freedom to work on things that mattered to me. This rarely happens when you intern at big places.
THE FLEXIBILITY IS A MAJOR PERK
In my experience, I’ve found that when I’ve interned for a smaller company they were more flexible with my schedule. One year I took two summer classes and had two internships. I was upfront with my bosses about my commitments and they were more than willing to accommodate my schedule. If you have a really heavy course load or are working a part-time job, consider applying for internships with a staff of 10-40 people.
YOU CAN MAKE MISTAKES ON A SMALLER SCALE
Interns can and do get fired. It happens all the time. A few years ago an intern at the Wall Street Journal was fired for fabricating sources for a story she wrote. They published her name, she was bashed online and I’m not sure where she is now. At a smaller company, you usually have more leeway and can learn from your mistakes. Now I’m not saying to go fabricate stories or anything crazy, but I am saying that there’s a lot of comfort knowing that there’s room to mess up.
YOUR TREATED LIKE YOU MATTER
I was able to make such strong connections with the people I worked under when I interned at a small company. I wasn’t treated like just another intern out of hundreds. I knew my value and my work was recognized. I could speak up and pitch my ideas in meetings. I could send an email to the staff about innovative things we should try. I wouldn’t have done those things as a 19-year-old at a Fortune 500 company.
Be sure to check out the top I’m wearing at Shein!