Ed. Note: We continue our six-part series highlighting the experience of Meghan Delaney, CareerBuilder’s social media intern. She’s sharing her experiences as a job seeker and intern.
Looking back on my college career, I can think of a few lessons I learned during each specific year. My first year I learned that if I wore a lanyard around my neck with my student ID card and looked really lost all the time I would easily be recognized as a freshman — which I did and I was.
After getting through the sometimes awkward moments of learning the ropes freshman year, I made it to my Sophomore year. This was when I learned how to build strong friendships. I’ve found that lessons I learned in college can be related to other parts of my life. Through some thought, I’ve found that each year of college and its lessons directly correlate with each of my internship experiences.
I was keeping up relationships from my first year, but also taking every opportunity to meet new people, and form new bonds that would last into the future. My Junior year was the year when I started becoming passionate about what I was studying, and why. My classes were extremely relevant to my interests, as I had finally gotten past core and prerequisite classes, and I found that I really wanted to learn what the teacher was saying (a concept that was somewhat new to me). Studying was not as big of a burden, because I was learning things I was interested in. I was taking charge of my schoolwork, because I knew it would make the difference in taking charge of my future.
And then came Senior year. Yes, my friends and I tried to take advantage of every last moment of college, but we also used it as our transition year. It was a year of preparation to head out into the working world. And though I sometimes felt I was going through an identity crisis during my evolution into an adult, it was definitely the first time that my friends and I realized we were about to become “real people,” and began to accept it.
After my first year of college, my main priorities for the summer were to get a job so that I could earn some money and begin building my résumé. Because I was still unsure about what I wanted to do, I didn’t have direction when it came to trying to find a job. Thus, I jumped into my first internship at a small staffing firm in Chicago, trying my best not to look lost every day. It was my first time working with professionals, and much like being a freshman at school, it was clear I was a newbie. Simple things like setting up meetings and calendar events, or learning the software that they used took time to learn and at some points made me feel lost. But, everyone has their first big job at some point, and I made sure to show that I was trying hard during the entire experience by asking plenty of questions –you may think you’re being annoying, but I promise it will make life a lot easier- and spending more time on a project if it needed more work.
Throughout the next year I stayed in touch with a number of the people I had worked with the previous summer. It didn’t have to be very often, but just a simple note every couple of months or so was a great way to keep up with people. The next summer I was lucky enough to be asked to work for the same company again. At that point, I understood the importance of trying to get to know as many of my co-workers as possible. There were new faces in the office the next year, and I made sure to stay close to the people I had met before, but also get to know new people around the office. Though my duties hadn’t changed much from the year before, I could spend more time getting to know people and do better work because I had made some mistakes the previous year. Much like making the mistake of going to the wrong building your first day of class, or going to the dining hall at the busiest time, I made sure to learn from mistakes I had made my first year so that life at work would be a little easier the second time around.
By my Junior year, the company knew me and my interests. During the first two internships I was learning the ins and outs of their business. I did everything from file papers, conduct phone interviews, research competitor companies and much more. But by my Junior year, they started up a marketing department to carry out new branding initiatives. They offered me an internship to work with the new marketing team because they knew it was something I was interested in. This was the first time, much like in my Junior year of school, that work didn’t feel like work anymore. Each day we were faced with a new challenge, but it was (dare I say) fun and interesting to try to find a solution. I was starting to understand that work didn’t have to be such a burden if you could find something you cared about.
Senior year, as I said before, was my transition year into the real world. I was balancing school and my social life, but also dealing with the stress of thinking about jobs and what it was that I wanted to do with my future. When an opportunity came my way to work at an advertising agency during my final semester, I didn’t hesitate to take it. Although it was a 45-minute drive from school, I knew that it would be an amazing opportunity to continue building my network and résumé, while also experiencing a new type of work environment. It was also a great way to regain my focus on what was to come in the real world, and practice interacting with other professionals.
While I was there, I was given the opportunity to work with the accounts of large-name clients, creating and coding surveys that would have an impact on shaping the brand in the future. Being trusted with such an important part of the advertising process made me nervous at first, but then I realized that if they didn’t believe that I could do the work, they wouldn’t have given it to me – plus, in a fast-paced work environment you soon learn there’s no time to be nervous!
Though turning down the opportunity during my final semester would have meant a lot less work, putting forth the effort at the time helped me get my internship at CareerBuilder. Each year of college and internship opportunities served a purpose that got me to where I am today.