All because of an internship.

As much as I’d like to say I’m a “seasoned pro” at business travel after a year of some really out-of-left-field work trips, there’s one thing I never get better at: sleeping, especially on the road. I’m bad at sleeping in the most ideal conditions, let alone in strange hotel rooms or even staying with friends in houses and apartments that are comfortable and sometimes even familiar.

So, here I am, sitting on a bed in the east suburbs of Sacramento, CA, not sleeping. It isn’t for lack of exhaustion, either. But, I’ll write about the actual trip while I sit in Phoenix (or Denver, if I get bumped or rerouted), right now I want to talk about an epiphany I’ve had.

My friends back home in Illinois, who pretty much primarily witness my life through Facebook and Twitter and text conversations, say my life has become this amazing, adorable thing that they’re happy I’ve found. (These friends tend to be some of the ones who knew me at rock bottom — you know, when I was so medicated for bipolar disorder that I couldn’t feel and I filled the void with self-destructive habits like an eating disorder.) And really, it’s all because of an internship.

This dream job I have, the one that whisks me away to speaking engagements at conferences and whirlwind adventures as a pseudo travel blogger, only happened because I interned and then freelanced for my agency first.

And really, that internship only happened because of experience I gained through other internships. Five other internships, to be exact. Each internship was a domino in a chain of opportunities that led to me where I am.

And where I am is pretty sweet: I love Kansas City, I love my friends there, I love my church there, I love my job there, I love my boyfriend there. As a country girl living in the city and working in ag, it has a lot to offer. It’s a smaller city, and the “country” is just minutes away. There is a very large and deeply-rooted agriculture community, which seems to complement the urban setting rather than clash with it. I take my dog on walks through historic Kansas City neighborhoods with breath-taking early-1900’s architecture. I got to livestock shows and barbecue festivals. I live a stone’s throw from an awe-inspiring view of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers, and in the other direction I’m an 8 minute walk from the arts district.

Kansas City Skyline

The Kansas City skyline from north of the city on 169.

My weekdays and sometimes evenings are spent doing a job I adore more than I ever thought I could. I have some of the coolest clients a social media/advertising gal could ask for. I leave work typically satisfied at the end of the day and spend my evenings learning new recipes with Nightwolf, hitting trivia night at my favorite bar with friends, or walking around the park that wraps around my neighborhood. My weekends are often the perfect blend of fun adventures and relaxing quiet moments.

sunrise in Kansas City

I went for a few sunrise runs through the arts district this summer. Sometimes you just need to stop and admire the sunrise, even if it screwed up your run time.

I guess what I’m sayin’ is, life is pretty damn good, and those internships were a big part of me getting here. In fact, I’d wager without my internships at agencies, I may have never left Illinois and “found myself.”

Now, if I HADN’T taken those internships, I’m not saying life would not be good. But, I’m not sure I’d be the happy, healthy Kelly I am today without this amazing domino art that has been my career path. It’s all been one interesting and intricate chain of events.

So, if any random young people debating whether or not to waste their summer, spring, or winter break on an internship (or maybe even waylay a semester or two of school to pursue it), the answer is probably yes. Even if your internships don’t have the same mind-blowingly deep impact as mine, they’ll still improve you. They’ll still teach you about life and careers, even if it’s what you DON’T want for yourself.

The moral of the story: go for it.

Try it. Pursue those internships. Eat them up. Because my life is pretty amazing (not perfect, but wonderful) and much of that can all be traced back to internships.

If this post isn’t enough to convince a young person to pursue and internship, I have another one that WILL. I wrote this post a while back about how I felt about internships after one year of work full-time after college. C’mon, all the cool kids are doin’ it.


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