This time a year ago, I was wrapping up business in college. I was less than a month from graduating, and I had officially finished every internship I’d had going on during my senior year. As a chronic intern for nearly five years, it was amazing to think my intern days were over. If you aren’t familiar with the rundown of my internships, here’s a list:
- eCommerce intern for Futureceuticals, Inc.
- Communications intern for Illinois Corn Marketing Board
- Marketing and Communications intern for North Central College
- Multimedia intern for the AgChat Foundation
- Social Media intern for Charleston|Orwig
- Social Media intern for AdFarm (Sacramento)
In those four years, I started multiple blogs (all of which have consolidated into Country Nights, City Lights here on KellyMRivard.com). Friends and colleagues began to use the hashtag #KellytheIntern (we miss you, Chris), and I met amazing people who changed my life. Friends, mentors, lifetime role models, and people who helped me grow into someone more mature, more levelheaded, more experienced, and more open-minded than I ever thought I could be.
I graduated from college just under 13 months ago. I started as a full-time AdFarmer 13.5 months ago.
As a “grown-up” with a little more real-world experience, how did those internships shape me? Professionally, personally?
A lot. I would not be where I am without them. The value of those internships goes far and above “just” my resumé. It wasn’t just job experience and references that I gained.
Internships took me out of my comfort zone. Because of Illinois Corn internship, I discovered blogging. Because of AgChat Foundation, I discovered how much I LOVED realtime social coverage. Because of Charleston|Orwig, I was able to live outside of Illinois for the first time in my life. Because of AdFarm, I took the journey of a lifetime.
Really, these internships, each one, played a big part in me finding out who I wanted to be. They helped me figure out a picture of the adult Kelly that I could appreciate. AdFarm’s willingness to take a midwestern college student and give her the opportunity of a lifetime, to live and travel around California while discovering her passions, was pivotal.
But, there’s more to the story. There’s more than just what I did in my job. There are people who changed my life.
Katie Pinke was my “non-boss” at AdFarm during my Sacramento internship (she did not want me to call her my “boss”). Strong, opinionated, outspoken, but also nurturing and empathetic, Katie was what I needed in my life. While I was well into my recovery from bulimia when I went to California, as I prepared to go back to “life as usual” for my senior year of college, I got edgy. I got scared. I wasn’t ready to go back to Illinois. I had found so much happiness in California. I was happy working for AdFarm.
I relapsed. I relapsed pretty hard. The stress of going back sent my bipolar disorder off-kilter, and the bulimia followed suit. Katie, and other co-workers, knew. They confronted me about it. And Katie gave me the tough love I needed. She told me that she was sure AdFarm would consider hiring me after college. She had been talking with the powers-that-be that would make that happen. But, she would not allow them to hire me if she did not think I was capable of taking care of myself. Advertising was too stressful for someone with bad coping habits, and she cared too much to let me walk into that situation.
I got my act together, and headed home with a fresh tally of “__ Days Since Last Relapse.” And I’m not perfect. There have been other, small relapses. But in California, I saw how happy I was capable of being. I found a goal to shoot for and a reason to REALLY care. The wake-up call I had in California led me to the wellness I have now. And, and that wellness has been invaluable in gaining and flourishing in the job of my dreams.
Katie has since gone to other professional opportunities, but she’s still one of my biggest cheerleaders and fantastic mentors.
So what have internships given me? A hell of a lot more than just a few lines on my resumé. They’ve given me perspective, courage, enthusiasm, inspiration, passion, and vision. They’ve given me one-of-a-kind, life-changing experiences. They’ve given me confidence, and class. And I know way more about the hugely diverse and exciting industry that brings us our food and many other products. I have a deeper love and broader understand of agriculture. That’s all made me a better professional, and a better person.
Should you do internships? Hell yes.
Go out there. Get an internship. Or six. Change your life. Shape your career. And kick ass.