The Value of Interning Early and Often
Through the completion of three internships and my current involvement in a fourth, I have learned that there is an immense amount of value to be gained from interning in the fields that you hope to work in. This value comes in many forms, and in most cases, your experience at the internship is far different than what you might have expected. It is crucial to treat your internship as a learning experience and to constantly ask yourself if the work that you are doing (or the work that your superiors are doing) is something that you would genuinely enjoy as a full-time job after college.
During my first three years of high school I knew that I eventually wanted to become an audio engineer. I also knew I wanted to major in an audio related field in college so that I could make that dream a reality. Luckily for me, I was able to secure an internship at a radio station during the summer before my senior year of high school where I assisted with the mixing and stage setup of two different bands a day. This was great industry experience for me and it was exactly what I was hoping to do as a career at the time, but as the internship progressed, I realized that even though I had a passion for live music, this wasn’t the career field for me. Due to this realization, I began exploring other majors and career fields, and I decided to pursue Supply Chain Management. Because of my experience at my audio engineering internship, I knew that I wanted to get a supply chain internship as soon as possible so that I could quickly determine if this would really be a career that I would enjoy.
After applying to several internships at the end of my freshman year, I secured a supply chain internship at a local manufacturing corporation. I enjoyed several things about this internship, but most of all, I realized that I loved working on the operations side of a large company and helping to solve different problems as they arose. Not only did this experience aid in establishing my interest in supply chain, but it also allowed me to gain valuable knowledge to carry on to my next internship. This summer, I completed a supply chain internship at a Walmart fashion distribution center that processes multiple types of inventory for every regional distribution center in the western United States. This has been a great opportunity for me, but I wouldn’t have even been considered for the position if I hadn’t taken initiative early on and secured my first pertinent internship.
Even though Walmart has roughly 70 supply chain interns across the country, very few of them are as young as I am, with only two years of college under my belt. This is proving to be a huge advantage since I will have all of next summer to complete another internship of my choosing before I graduate and begin working full time in May 2020. Not only do I have the extra time to research where I might want to work, but I will also have more relevant experience than most of my peers, so that will give me an edge in securing the job of my choice later down the road.
If you can be proactive with securing internships in the areas where you hope to work, it will drastically increase the amount of opportunities that come your way later down the road. By your junior or senior year of college, you could be making decisions regarding the location you want to live in or the company you aspire to work for, while your fellow classmates are still hoping to get their very first internship offer. There is no doubt that growing the amount of options available to you gives you much more control over your future. What better way is there to increase your career opportunities than to actively pursue them early and often?