Closing a Chapter: No Longer Kelly the Intern

I’ve had this post half-written on the back end of the blog for almost two weeks, because life suddenly got busy. I’m finally revisiting it, because I’ve had a chance to think about this.

I have been an intern since I was 17. I took my first internship at Futureceuticals during my senior year of high school. I was the “media intern.” Essentially, I spent several hours at a time putting marketing material into folders for trade shows. Over time, I developed a relationship with the gentleman who was running the e-commerce department. My position was shifted to the e-commerce department, as he had need for help in graphic design. He became my first professional mentor. Suddenly, I was entrenched in interactive marketing, and the rest of the story seems like a series of intricate domino patterns, twisting and turning to fall down into a very specific and absurd pattern.

One chain of dominos has made its final falls. A few weeks ago, I had my last day at the North Central College Office of Marketing and Communications.

A few words come to mind: bittersweet, reflective, relieving…but this is more than a last day at a job.

This is the last internship I will ever have had. I interviewed for it freshman year, and had been there since. There, I’d had a mixed bag of responsibilities, including video editing, social media work, content management, web coding, writing, and office odd jobs. It isn’t the traditional internship, with a fixed amount of time. But, on paper and in conversation we were referred to as “interns.”

I’ve written in the past how my status as an intern became a part of my identity, and what that mean for me as a student and professional. I’ve shared deep sentiment about the value that the title had for me, and the woulda-coulda’s of expressing gratitude for the nickname of “Kelly the Intern” when I had the chance. Now, I think about the fact that I’m no longer “the intern” and I realize it’s time to start thinking for the future.

I have no problem thinking ahead. I have plans, hopes, aspirations, intentions for my time left as a student, but mostly an excitement at the blank canvas that is my life. I’ve always considered myself an artist, so that metaphor fits me, I feel. My future is a blank white slate waiting for me to add splashes of beautiful color. There will be parts of it that include the dull grays and the darker tones, but I feel that it’ll all come together into a work of art that I can be proud of.

This picture was taken at the first office I ever worked in, my first communications job.

The experiences I’ve had as an intern have shaped me both as a person and a professional. I learned who I was and who I wanted to be. I had trial by fire and figured out a direction to start in with my career. I cemented my passion for agriculture and my desire to work alongside the people who grow our food and other raw goods here in North America. I learned that I had a love for giving a voice to those who haven’t found their yet. And while I have a better definition of my qualifications and qualities, there’s still a big question: who do you become when you stop being who you were?

Am I Kelly the Professional? Am I Kelly the Adult? Kelly the Soon-to-be-College-Graduate? Kelly the Starving Freelancer? (Seriously. Someone please feed me real food. I can only sustain myself so long on cafeteria food and ramen noodles…)

Maybe I’m just becoming the Kelly I was always meant to be, and Kelly the Intern was just a stage along the way. Yeah, I think that’s how it goes.

I’m Kelly. And I’m a lot of things. “Intern” just isn’t one of those things anymore. And I’m okay with that.

Myself and Janice Person at the first AgChat Conference. Janice helped direct me as the conference intern, and has been a mentor of communications since. The projects I worked on alongside Janice and Mark Gale of the communications committee led to another internship, at Charleston|Orwig. Domino effect in action.

This grainy picture is of me and my going away gift from AdFarm Sacramento, which was my last ever summer-only internship. It hangs in my bedroom at my parents' house and will be relocating with me wherever I end up going after college.

Organizations and Individuals Mentioned in this post:
North Central College: Website
Janice Person: Blog, Twitter
Mark Gale: Twitter
AgChat Foundation: Twitter, Website
Charleston|Orwig: Blog 1, Blog 2, TwitterWebsite
AdFarm: Twitter, Website


4 thoughts on “Closing a Chapter: No Longer Kelly the Intern

  1. Congratulations! The feeling of “moving on” is a great one. One caution—don’t be so quick to say “never,” especially on the internship tip. I said the same thing twice: when I wrapped up a full-time internship (my third one) that last 9 months and then again after an editorial supervising gig (a fourth one)…now, I’m in New York in talks to start another (paid, full-time, probationary-and-leads-to-a-job) one next week!
    Your future is wide open for better or worse and one of the things we as communication (ag comm, PR, marketing, whatever) kids have to face when beginning our careers is paying our dues. One firm’s intern may be another’s junior account executive. Just be open to any opportunity regardless of the title. It’s a tough economy out there! Love the tweets…you’re doing great. Good luck!

    • Hi Chris! Thanks for reading and responding. I’ve done a good job of racking up the internship; all together I’ve had six paid internships, but that’s because I was literally living from break-to-break to make my way through school without any extra debt on top of car and student loans. (I have made it 21 without a credit card thus far! Whoo!) I say “never” because, I know I don’t want to pursue an internship. I’m ready for the next stage of my dues-paying, and because of my internships I actually have some very real opportunities waiting for me as a full-time, non-intern employee. I know other internships would have more and different lessons to offer, but there’s also some distinctly different experiences you get as a new full-time professional over an intern. I’m ready for those. It’s scary to say that my stage as Kelly the Intern is over, but I’m so pumped for the next step.

      Good luck on your probationary-and-leads-to-a-job gig! That is INCREDIBLY exciting and I am thrilled for you. Good luck conquering that big wide world out there, fellow internship-addict!

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