Staff Editorial: Summer internships give experience in the work force

By Duke Staff

Last spring we worked hard on perfecting résumés, sent out cover letters and practiced interviews in the mirror in hopes of the perfect summer internship.

Donning heels and suit jackets, we proudly took our seats in the back of the room.

For some of us at The Duke, the energy and excitement we harbored in the spring lasted the extent of our summer. We faced real world challenges, and felt like our work mattered.

For others, dreams of office meetings and solving obstacles creatively were replaced by responding to emails and, “How would you like your coffee?”

After sharing our experiences with each other we’ve come to terms with getting our foot in the door, and how to get the most out of an internship. Now, we share them with you:

1. You’re there for a reason, don’t forget it. No matter how menial the task, your work is important. The company you are working for picked you out of the stack of résumés. Demonstrate that you can do the boring tasks and chances are, they’ll give you more of a challenge.

2. It may stink, but it will help you in the long run. “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey,” is a common phrase. But when it comes to internships, it is about the destination. A valuable internship could help you land your ideal occupation or at the very least put you in contact with the people who can. Get to know your co-workers but more importantly, get them to know you.

3. Your dream job just may not be your dream job. One of our editors swore her entire life that she wanted to work in a certain industry, but now after a disastrous summer internship, she’s learned that maybe, just maybe, she should reevaluate her life choices. It could have just been her experience and the company she worked for, but sticking it out through the summer was the only way she found out.

4. Or maybe your dream job is your dream job. On the opposite end of the spectrum, one of our editors absolutely adored his unpaid internship and learned that his job of choice is something that he’s passionate about. Consider internships as appetizers at a party. Try as many as possible. Take this opportunity to put your name out there and don’t let up on the gas when the opportunity ends.

5. Regardless of what you did and did not learn, your résumé thanks you. You may have been scanning papers all day, but it was still a valuable experience. Plus, it’s another name to add to the work experience. Employers look for possible candidates who are willing to stick it out through the boring stuff.