Internships are a vital part of the college experience. You get the chance to “try out” the field that you’ll work in for pretty much the rest of your life once you graduate from college. Think of internships as a free trial for your career. They are a chance to learn the ins and outs of your industry, network to gain some new connections, and really figure out what you want to do. Sometimes, however, your expectations do not meet reality when it comes to your experience as an intern, and you’re left with a bubbling pot of bitter disappointment soup.
I went into my internship search with an idea of exactly what I wanted. I wanted to find an internship that paid, since I was going to be out of work over the summer, and I also wanted my internship to reflect both my arts administration major and graphic design minor. Once I completed my online search, I ended up with three internships that fit a good portion of my requirements. I was excited to have so many opportunities in front of me, so I applied for all three of the internships I had found and all three companies hired me. I prepared myself for an insanely busy summer, but, as it turns out, that wasn’t going to be the case at all.
The first company that I got an internship with fit my requirements for a good internship perfectly. It was an organization that offered music education to empower emerging musicians. Music has always been a huge part of my life and I already have some connections in the industry. The organization promised to pay me $1000 at the end of the summer for all of the work I would do as part of the graphic design team and as an event coordinator. They were raising the money to pay interns through a fundraising campaign on IndieGoGo because they were just starting out and didn’t have the money. About three weeks into my internship with them, the president of the organization had decided to completely call off their fundraising campaign and said that they could no longer pay me once the summer ended. Soon after, they stopped communicating with me completely and I was left confused at what I had done to make them do so.
The second internship I took was with a start-up that allows college students to offer business consultation and advice to recognizable businesses such as Dell and Geico. I was excited about this internship because I was promised a base pay of $250 per week plus commission and tons of experience in sales. Being a sales intern was hard and the company understood that it was, so I didn’t expect anything bad to happen. During my first week I made two sales to companies around NSU’s campus, but I never saw the money from the sales, nor did I ever see my salary. I just assumed that they had made a mistake or it took a little while to process. Two weeks into the program, the company said they were going to put the internship on hold for one to two weeks to work out some “bugs” in the system and make it an easier process. Two and a half months have come and gone since I have received an email from them.
The third internship I had taken was with a locally-based company that sold air purifying machines and products. Since it was based locally, I thought this one would go well and maybe I would actually make some money and gain some experience. I was asked to go to their extremely sketchy office in downtown Hollywood where I felt like I was going to get mugged for an interview and was immediately hired as a graphic design intern. I was told I could make anywhere from $500 to $1000 a month based on how much work I put out and that the manager would also teach me the ropes of writing for marketing. I was filled to the rim with excitement and completely ready for the opportunities I could get from having this internship. Almost two weeks into working with them, I had a strange feeling as if something was up. I had sent them a beautiful brochure that I was very proud of and had taken me a full day to make. The day after, I expected to be contacted with feedback, but nobody contacted me. So, I waited, and I waited and I waited. A couple weeks passed, and they still hadn’t communicated with me. It turns out that they had actually used me for free graphic design work because I never signed a contract with them.
My experience as an intern this summer was far from satisfactory. I hope to find something that’ll work out so that I can continue to further myself down the labyrinthine path that’ll lead me to my dream job and life. My search can only get better from here. I mean, I’m only a sophomore this year and the opportunities will continuously appear.