Fall advice for summer interns

Kate Bigam

I spent the better half of my summer interning in Washington, D.C., the city my roommate lovingly refers to as “the streets of democracy.” Politics have never been my thing, so I didn’t expect to enjoy the capital much. I’d always planned to move to the Big Apple upon graduation, dreaming that I’d work for a magazine such as Glamour.

Six weeks later, I’m already searching for next summer’s internship, not in NYC but in D.C. In spite of — or maybe because of — the political scene, I’ve fallen in love with the capital. I’m obsessed with riding the Metro, I get a thrill wearing suits to work every day and, most importantly, my internship with a national non-profit agency has opened me up to a whole new world of potential careers.

The images associated with being an intern — copying and stapling papers, sending countless faxes, fetching the boss’s coffee and dry-cleaning — can be disheartening. If you’re lucky, though, you find yourself interning for a boss who truly cares about your future, who wants to help you build your r‚sum‚ and gain valuable experience. If you’re fortunate, you end up with a supervisor who trusts you enough to let you tackle important, hands-on responsibilities. Under the right circumstances, an internship provides a sometimes-overwhelming vision of what your own future could hold.

But internships are a bit like summer camp. While you’re involved in them, you tell yourself, “I am becoming a new person. Things are changing.” As soon as you return home, though, you find that it’s more difficult than you’d imagined keeping that “new person” in existence when you’re living in your same old college surroundings.

Right now, we interns leave our summer gigs filled with motivation, driven to graduate with good grades and seek out our perfect careers. But now that the end of August looms and we begin gearing up for fall semester, what place will these summer internships have in our Kent State lives? When we’re wrapped up in the stress of writing research papers and studying for finals, how do we retain our inspiration? Similarly, how do we keep an eye on the professional prize when collegiate partying lurks around every tempting corner?

I don’t have the answers yet, but I know I don’t want to lose everything I gained in D.C. just because I still have a year left before graduation. So, summer interns, this is my challenge for you, and for myself: Try your damnedest to retain the skills and characteristics you obtained this summer. When you return to Kent bright-eyed and ready to take on the world, resist the inclination to become bogged down by the mundane aspects of academia. Keep your professional goals within arm’s reach instead of letting your first “real world experience” retreat to the cobwebs.

It’s going to be hard, but it’s not impossible. We’re between the best of two worlds now — we’ve experienced the professional realm, but we still have a couple of our golden college years left. If anything, we are more prepared than ever to face our futures head on.

Good luck, summer interns. Just think how much you’ll thank yourself later, when you score an amazing post-graduation career.

Kate Bigam is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].