I graduated from the University of Redlands in May 2012 with a BA in Creative Writing. Great. Awesome. Where did that leave me? I mean, apart from finishing that novel that I was writing… was about to start writing… am about to start writing… will someday write.
The truth is, I had no idea where to go from there. The problem? I had no “real” experience writing. The thing that no one told me was that, even though I was a creative writer, and working on my “craft,” that didn’t mean I was exempt from the traditional style of writing that resides in the working world. A portfolio filled with post-modern/magical realism-inspired fiction might make me feel proud, but it didn’t impress employers nearly as much as actual professional work experience.
During college, I had been naive, and imagined my life after graduation to be a romantic adventure as an author of novels. In my world, friends who were working at internships were going to be lawyers, in the advertising industry, bankers, or doctors. I was a creative writer. I didn’t need an internship.
Oh, was I ever wrong. Without the experience that internships would have provided me, I was unable to build a strong résumé that would help me land a career in the editorial world.
So I returned home and took a job outside of my field. Through networking, I was lucky enough to be able to write for a couple blogs on the side, and I kept applying to other editorial positions. I subscribed to a number of job-search sites, including AfterCollege, and lo and behold, the Editorial & Social Media Summer Intern position popped up in my emails. It was the holy grail of positions: a paid internship.
This is exactly what I had been looking for. It was an internship, a place where I would be learning how to blog for a company, rather than being thrown to the wolves and expected to immediately produce perfect content. I applied and was ecstatic when I heard back that I had gotten the position.
To say that I was nervous is a gross understatement of the all-encompassing fear I felt before starting my internship with AfterCollege. I would be moving to a new city, starting a new position, and though it was listed as an internship, I wasn’t sure just how much would be expected of me. After all, I had never had an internship before.
Knocking on the office door, heart in my throat, I was shown inside. Right off the bat, I was able to relax. The place had a certain “feel” that let me know I was going to be alright. I could tell that AfterCollege was a place that got things done, but without an uncomfortable amount of pressure bearing down on you.
There were two other interns who started on the same day as me, Jessica and Simon. All three of our mentors not only introduced us to our individual departments, but also showcased what the other departments did. This helped us to better understand AfterCollege as a whole, where we fit in, and gave us a strong understanding of what we were working toward.
After a lunch out with the other interns and all of our mentors, we returned to the office and jumped right into everything. I received my first blog and social media assignments. I spent a lot of time researching other industry players, conducting interviews, and choosing which social media networks I wanted to focus on.
Throughout each of these projects, I was shown different programs and methods to keep track of what I was doing and to gain readership. I was introduced to different sharing methods so that Melissa Suzuno (Content Marketing Specialist) could edit my writing and add suggestions to my posts. It’s incredibly helpful to be able to communicate so consistently and efficiently about multiple pieces.
With each blog article that I write, and each social media post I create, I try to focus on what Melissa is suggesting, and keep it in my mind for the next article or post. It has been an interesting transition for me to go from writing fiction, where detail flourishes are encouraged, to blogging, where readers are looking for simple, compact, and easy to read posts. Whether it’s sentence structure or formatting, I am learning with each new project. I hope to continue learning and by the end of the internship function pretty well on my own.
During this internship, I would like to expand my knowledge of the methods AfterCollege uses to help their clients. This way, I can write entertaining as well as informative articles that can best serve readers. I hope to cultivate my interviewing skills so that it feels completely natural. Most of all, I hope to become comfortable in the entire process of producing a blog, from doing the interview to writing the post, formatting it correctly, and posting it to the web.
Homework time! Learn from my mistake: Don’t assume that internships aren’t required in your industry. You know what they say about when you assume things… If you’re not already interning or haven’t held an internship position in the past, take a moment to look into a few. If you’re brave, and up for a real challenge, apply! Don’t forget to search for internship opportunities on AfterCollege!
P.S. Once you’ve taken me up on this challenge, prove it. Post a comment about how you found your internship, where it’s taking place, and what it entails.