April 7, 2014
"My Two Cents" is a series of articles with tips to help you make wise financial decisions while in college. Here fellow Matadors share how they maximized their internship experiences.
College is a time for learning, networking and discovery. Choosing the best internship opportunity is hard, especially when some are unpaid. But while a college job has the potential for creating splurge funds, an internship can provide the foundation for a lifelong career.
If you decide to pursue an internship, finding one is easy. Visit the Career Center’s online job board SUNlink or meet with Career Center counselors and peer educators on a walk-in basis in University Hall 105. Or talk to your peers and professors, who often have the inside scoop.
Matadors Hailey Graves and Patrick Pagan share how they used internships to boost their resumes and professional outlooks.
Hailey's Two Cents
1. Gain a new perspective
Your major can often lead to careers beyond the obvious ones. Hailey is a cinema and television arts major with a multimedia production option. Her dream is to work in Southern California’s film industry.
But to her surprise, she found herself in public relations. She’s interning in the media relations department of CSUN’s University Advancement office, which handles all alumni communications.
“I never would have thought I would work in marketing and communications,” Hailey says. “It wasn’t even on my radar. Now it has turned into one of the most pivotal things to happen to me during my college career.”
Her public relations internship offers her a new lens through which to view her dream job.
“I want to be on the creative side of the film industry,” she says. “But I know it’s important to understand all aspects — including how to network with people and promote a product or idea — all of which is going to be essential for selling movies or TV shows.”
2. Put your work on display.
Social media is a great way to explore your Web capabilities, state your opinion and show your creativity.
Blogging helped Hailey build her resume and social network. Two summers ago, while working for CSUN’s Teenage Drama Workshop as an assistant stage manager, Hailey snapped photos, wrote captions and updated the program’s blog regarding ongoing productions. Her internship supervisor, Carmen Ramos Chandler, director of media relations, saw Hailey’s work and sought her out. When they met at a networking event hosted by the workshop, she offered Hailey a job.
“In the past, Carmen only hired journalism or English majors,” Hailey says. “However, I had an edge because I knew how to tell a good story.”
Blogs are free and easy to set up. Many CSUN professors encourage students to utilize Web technology for projects and presentations. Ask your professor to make your next assignment into a blog or interactive website so you can get your work on display.
Patrick's Two Cents
1. Keep your options open.
When senior communication studies major Patrick interned with the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE), he acquired a number of skills through working with multiple departments — from compiling Web reports and making sales calls to conducting interviews.
Patrick hopes to work in the entertainment industry. His breadth of experience allows him to be flexible with the opportunities that will get his foot in the door. For this reason, he recommends becoming a jack-of-all-trades.
“I am a computer and data person, sales telemarketer and production researcher,” he says. “My versatility comes from my refusal to be labeled.”
2. Develop a professional outlook.
You may think choosing a major is tough, but deciding on a career path is even tougher. An internship is a great way to dip your toes in the water.
“Interning is the first real step out of the classroom and into the office,” Patrick says.
Not only can internships be a platform for career-specific skill development, hours tend to be fewer and more flexible than they are for a regular employee. Although an intern generally doesn’t carry the same workload as a person with a full-time position, an internship is an opportunity to experience working with a variety of professionals on different projects.
Besides helping you explore, internships can also help you weed out or change your mind about a career early in the game.
“Working in the field that you want or one that is related to it is going to either make you think, ‘Yes, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life,’” Hailey says, or, “‘This is not what I thought it would be like at all.’”
Coming to that realization before you graduate can save you a lot of headaches as well as lost time and effort.
- Chelsea Turner, master of arts in English, spring 2016