As far as the east is from the west, so far is one’s classroom knowledge of the industry (advertising, marketing, finance, you name it) from the reality of the industry. How do I know this, you ask? Well, as an advertising major at the University of Florida and self-proclaimed “internship-addict” (AB&A Advertising is my seventh), I’ve learned that classroom knowledge can only take you so far, and it is rarely far enough to reach “the real work world.”
Now, do not let this discourage you; instead, let it serve as a challenge to build the bridge from your college experience to real-life job experience. You can do so by identifying what it is you should be getting out of your college experience and pushing yourself to try different internships throughout your college years: both are invaluable, but for different reasons.
College: Where You Find Yourself
Your college education is the route to hopefully becoming a well-rounded adult; someone that people won’t just tolerate but welcome into their open arms (or offices).
- Study a plethora of different subjects
- Meet all kinds of people
- Get involved in campus life (organizations and associations related/unrelated to your major)
- As a result of the top three, cultivate personal and professional interests
Throughout these few years, you may even find what it is that you want to do with your life. But how can you know for sure, or attempt to know for sure? Through internship opportunities.
Internships: Where You Find Your Career
Here is where you can discover whether your interest(s) can one day become your career.
- Tasks that challenge and excite you
- Find professionals that do what you want to do
- Develop skills/existing talents
- Use top three exercises to help you find what you like, don’t like and want to do more of
- Picture yourself in this job and see if it matches your career aspirations
Throughout my years as a student and intern, I’ve done all of the above in order to prepare for future job searching. Thankfully, I’ve found positions and employers that I believe suit me, considering what I’m good at, what I care about and what will help me fulfill my goals. I’ve realized that being a copywriter is one of the options that suit me best, as well as becoming a brand manager and even a professor one day. It is important to gain experience in a variety of areas because you never know where you have hidden talents. It’s all part of the journey.
I leave you with this: Stay curious and keep learning. Build a strong network. Work your butt off and make it a point to not only meet your personal goals, but also exceed them. These are all objectives that internships will help you accomplish before you walk at graduation. Now just do it.