Tales of an Unpaid Intern

As I face the wind and shut the office doors on the last day of my summer internship, I can’t help but reminisce on the summer I had. Interning for an event production company was interesting to say the least. During the week I went from tracking marketing impressions and planning distribution of print material to manning the guest relations tent and carrying around snips and zip ties (you wouldn’t believe how handy I am now).

In January as I started telling my friends about my findings at home, they were shocked to hear that I was applying for an unpaid internship. I didn’t really see the big deal. I knew that I could work at H&M again over the summer while I interned to make some extra money. I barely considered their thoughts on the pay-grade, instead focusing on my excitement (& anxiety) of my first real internship.

By March, I interviewed and received the internship. The woman I interviewed with was excited to have me on board, but couldn’t stop mentioning how I would need to make sure I actually liked the position. Yet another sentiment that I barely considered. I couldn’t imagine why I wouldn’t enjoy a position in a field I desired, in a city I adored, and at events that bring the city to life. In May, at the start of my summer, (after an interesting re-communication with the company because they woman who was meant to be my boss left for personal reasons), I launched into my internship.

Let’s just say after about a week, I knew exactly what she was talking about. I was insanely busy. I had an event nearly every weekend and when I wasn’t interning I was working at H&M to make ends meet. I became overwhelmed, stressed, and upset that I had no time to see my friends or no money to do anything fun.

It all felt very unfair.IMG_2550

But then I realized, it’s not supposed to be fair.

Every opportunity in life doesn’t come handed to you on a silver platter. This summer, I worked my butt off to prove to myself that I am capable of success in a business world that a year ago I barely understood existed.

I thank God and the people who hired me for the opportunity. My internship provided me with an immense amount of experience in marketing that I wouldn’t have received otherwise. I learned how events are ran on a large-scale and how to target a certain demographics for said events. I made local connections, met some important people, made a few friends, and learned what it truly meant to be a marketing professional.

FullSizeRenderAs I expand my experience and knowledge, I would never again be an unpaid intern. My advice to you is to think carefully before you agree to one. Be sure to understand how much time will go into the position versus your other obligations. However, don’t knock a great opportunity simply because it’s unpaid. This summer, amongst other things, taught me to be happy no matter the situation. I am living my life as I choose. The decisions I make (paid or not) lead me to future success and happiness.

I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything (except maybe a tad more sleep).

KM

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