After I was encouraged to apply for internships all throughout my sophomore year, I still had no idea what I was going to do with my summer come April.
After applying for more than 20 internships, I had only gotten one interview.
My unrealistic dream of landing an internship at a top media company as a sophomore was never realized.
I had no journalistic experience outside of Lehigh, and, clearly, the companies I applied to did not find me an appealing enough candidate for an internship position.
I was distraught and downright worried, to be honest. I did not want to squander another opportunity for valuable summer experience and did not want to go into my junior year without an internship experience.
However, in early April, a call came. It was not from one of the most well-known news companies in the country, but rather from a local news organization in the suburbs of Chicago: 22nd Century Media.
I was offered a position as an unpaid editorial intern for the summer. Although I was relieved to know I had a legitimate internship offer, I found myself not overly exuberant, as covering local news in my native Chicago felt like nothing compared to working on the streets of New York.
However, summer 2019 turned into far more than I was expecting. In searching for the big-name internship that I could talk about with my friends, I got lost in the true reason I was looking for an internship in the first place: to gain experience.
They say in order to get experience, you need to get an internship. But in most cases, to get an internship, you need experience. In my case, I was fortunate to have someone believe in me despite my limited journalism experience.
My first interview on the job ended up landing me a second internship with a local radio company, as the individual I interviewed about his book on the 2018 Chicago Bears needed assistance over the summer.
It was crazy how things worked out like that. Less than two months before, I felt lost. All of a sudden, I felt as though I was making huge strides.
Through the two internships, I wrote over 20 articles, crafted radio scripts, improved in photography, learned how to edit audio and covered the Big 10 football kickoff, interacting with famous journalists and prominent college coaches.
I am confident that my experiences this past summer have put me in a better position to get a top internship next year and that it made me a better, more well-rounded journalist. I recognized the importance of getting an internship, but I didn’t recognize that in order to take a big step in the industry, I needed to take a little one first.
Too often we are pressured to land that big job, that big internship and expect ourselves to be the best immediately.
This past summer helped me understand that life and my career is a process. I can dream, but those dreams will not come true overnight.
The little steps, little successes and the little milestones are the ones that help create a star.
I was so concerned by the “name,” that I almost overlooked a smaller opportunity to get my foot in the door. I ended up learning a versatile slate of skills that I am confident I may not have gotten anywhere else. I interviewed community members and told their stories, and I know I walked away from it a better journalist than I was at the start.
I so desperately lied to myself that I was ready to take on an internship at a top company when in reality, I wasn’t. I needed to gain valuable experiences first, and now I know that I have put myself in a much better position for the future.
Sometimes the opportunities we want to overlook end up being the most valuable.
Everyone needs to start somewhere.