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Commentary by Betsy Gill, Assistant Director, Internship Services, UCS:

This summer Northwestern University students have been blogging about their internship experiences as well as providing tips to students about how to find internships and more about our Summer Internship Grant Program. Every week I collect several posts, read through them, and post on behalf of the students. Below is a post from one of our NU Intern Bloggers. Bri Hightower writes below about how her internship, though not the best match, helped her better understand what she wants out of an employment experience.

After reading this I told Bri that I too had an internship in college that wasn’t a good fit for me and that her piece reminded me that internships can often clarify for you what you DO NOT want to do with your career. This is a valid and helpful learning experience. Internships alone may not help in the clarification of your career goals. And if they do not please know that UCS has career counselors on staff to help you indentify your ideal career choice(s). Just call 847-491-3700 to schedule an appointment.

Bri Hightower’s Blog Post

Internships are great because they help solidify what you want to do post-college, along with making you specialized (and more marketable) in that field. Usually, this results in you exploring your internship field and shadowing someone who has the job that you want to one day acquire. In my case, I realized that I didn’t want to pursue a job similar to my experience while interning. I’m very happy that I realized this during my intern experience instead of waiting to learn this at my first real post-college job!

As a marketing intern, there are many types of duties that I could have encountered, ranging from boosting the online presence of a business (which I did via their website, Twitter, and Facebook) to having input in how an advertisement will physically look. Then there’s the research side of things (like learning more about targeted consumers) or the creative side of things (composing the perfect image which conveys to the public the exact message that your company wants to deliver). As someone who lacks an ounce of creative blood in my veins, I was lucky that I didn’t pursue an internship of the creative sort. Thus, I assumed any business-like marketing internship would be ideal for me.

My internship at Converge Media (http://www.convergemedia.com; found via CareerCat) has shown me that all business-like marketing internships are not alike. Converge Media specialized in identifying assets to aid companies (or municipalities — like the City of Chicago, their most recent client) and consulting. While this was exciting in its own rite (I was able to complete work that could be implemented in the City of Chicago!! and received experience with things I’d never encountered before like government RFQs), it made me realize that I’m not investing in identifying assets that can be used to market upon. I think I’d more like working internally at a specific company and exploring things like brand management and how the public perceives that company. I think my internship in a field I decided not to pursue was as equally rewarding as finding an internship that was exactly like what I want to do later in life as it has helped me narrow down my focus to be more precise. I’ll simply delve into a new sphere for my next internship!

About the NU Intern Blogger Program
This summer, over 50 Northwestern University students will be sharing stories about what they are experiencing at their internships from across the country and internationally. Each week new students will share an inside look at what it means to be an intern. Please contact Betsy Gill, Assistant Director, Internship Services if you have any questions.