The Intern Games

It’s hard to think that there are only four weeks left of school. On one hand, I can’t believe this semester has gone by so fast, but on the other hand, I have never wanted a semester to end so badly!

Between awful group projects and inattentive professors, my spring classes have not been enjoyable whatsoever. I’ve had my fair share of breakdowns over my GPA in the past 48 hours, and I’m positively dreading going to my Entrepreneurship class tomorrow morning (which is the primary source of my stress and frustration because people do not understand the concept of deadlines). Needless to say, I can’t wait for summer!

Aside from not having to worry about homework or group assignments or terrible teachers, there’s another reason I’m excited for this summer: my internship!

I spent last summer working for I Do, Too! Bridal and had a wonderful time. However, it wasn’t an “official” internship; I hadn’t registered it with my coordinator and my learning was focused primarily on my job duties, rather than career development. That being said, I still learned a lot and the professional connections I developed as a result have been vital.

For this summer, I had been interested in looking for an internship in Chicago. We’ll have our apartment until May 2014, so I figured that I may as well look for an opportunity in the city, since I’m already paying for housing. Not to mention, having a “big name” bridal company on my resume wouldn’t be something to complain about.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have any luck. I tried working with our fashion internship coordinator, but she wasn’t able to locate anything for me, and I hit continuous dead-ends on my own. I contacted more than a dozen wedding companies in the city, ranging from event planners to caterers to venue hosts, and I heard back from… wait for it… zero.

Trust me, it did wonders for my self-confidence.

That's a lie. I was miserable. (Photo via SmithMag)

That’s a lie. I was miserable. (Photo via SmithMag)

After the thirteenth attempt with no response, I decided that it must be a sign from the universe: I Do, Too! is where I’m meant to be. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not some big-name, downtown bridal company, but it’s the right one for me. I’ve already had so many opportunities to expand my network even though I’ve only been with I Do, Too! for a year. If I started somewhere else, I’d have to start from scratch, so to speak. I’m already familiar with the company culture and systems where I am now, and frankly, I’d rather spend my time gaining new knowledge as opposed to reteaching myself. Plus, there’s still room for me to grow here, and I feel that it would look better if I showed long-term employment on my resume as opposed to sporadic job-hopping.

Prior to Bridal Market, I emailed Krista about registering my summer position at the boutique as a professional internship that I could receive credit for, and she agreed!

We’ve started to fill out the paperwork to make it official, going over things like minimum hours and learning objectives. I’ll be receiving around 4 credits for this internship, so potentially I may be able to take one less class next semester (huzzah)! Krista wants to have my internship focus on social media management, along with more in-depth consulting work and business relations with our sales reps.

Most exciting, though… I’ll have opportunities to design wedding dresses and have them produced! I can’t say anything else for the time being—but just know that I am freaking out about it!

I know that the majority of students at my college bemoan the requirement of completing an internship, but I see internships as something that can be extremely valuable to earning experience within the industry you’d like to work. Moreover, it can help to establish professional connections that you can use to launch your career.

Granted, finding an internship can be incredibly discouraging. Few companies, especially within the bridal industry, are willing to hire students as interns due to all the regulations outlined by colleges. There are minimum hourly requirements, learning goals that must be met, and performance reviews in order to ensure that the student is gaining academic knowledge from the experience. Most employers have no desire to deal with that—which is understandable, but it doesn’t make things easy for those of us who need to complete an internship to graduate.

I’m unbelievably grateful for the opportunity I have to work with the team at I Do, Too! and to have Krista as my mentor. I would be at a very different place in my career without her, and my plans for my future would be much more uncertain. I’m thrilled that I’ll get to return to the boutique for another year, and I can’t wait to see what this summer holds in store!

Just one more month to go… Now it’s only a matter of surviving finals!

Did or does your college require students to complete a professional internship? If so, how did/has yours benefited your career? Do you have an exciting internship lined up for the summer, or did you recently complete one?

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