I always considered myself an above-average student. I would fall asleep on my textbooks and jump for joy when professors gave extra-credit assignments. Throughout my academic career, getting excellent marks was my number one priority. That was until the prospect of finishing my degree started to loom large. Suddenly, I wasn’t working towards being on the right end of the grading curve. Instead, I was thinking about starting my career. And that is a whole new ball game.
Beefing up my CV became my number one priority. Honestly, I thought my CV was pretty balanced. I worked retail all through school, played on multiple sports teams and won academic awards. But, that wasn’t enough to get me noticed. I needed corporate work experience. I needed internships.
Countless guidance councillors, recruiters and well-meaning relatives convinced me that internships would be amazing. “You’ll get real-world experience… you’ll work on projects that make a difference… you’ll work crazy hours… you will meet people who can help your career… you’ll learn new skills…”
But, my internship experiences would not live up to the hype. They were boring. They were horrible. Here’s what I actually learned from my internships: you need them on your CV to get a job. That’s it.
From my experience, there are three main reasons that these life-changing, career-defining internships are an illusion.
Unfortunately, I suspect my internship experiences were pretty typical. The sense of disappointment and frustration that I felt are probably familiar to many other university students and recent graduates. But, friends, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There are companies out there that don’t just stick interns in the corner.
My internship at Jonar couldn’t be more different from my past experiences. I’ve taken on projects with senior colleagues, contributed to the design of our software and given presentations at staff meetings. The projects I work on weren’t designed to occupy my time. Instead, I work on real projects for real customers. I receive constant guidance and feedback without feeling like I’m being hand-held or micro-managed. I’ve been able to voice my opinions and have a say in what happens here. My opinions actually matter. I feel empowered every day when I come to work. And, while I’m technically an intern, I’m not treated like “the intern.”
So, for those of you who are ready to give up on your search for a fulfilling summer job that does more than just occupy space on your resume, keep plugging. Companies like Jonar are raising the bar and giving people like us a reason to believe in the internship hype.