As an intern, I’ve researched seemingly obscure topics, tweeted, blogged and “Facebook-ed,” and taken on other mundane tasks that few people dream about. Most young professionals in the nonprofit world have all had our share of internships. And it has been worth it, right?
Yes, definitely! But just as important as the experience is finding a good way to describe an internship or temporary work experience, aiding in your transition from part-time installment to full time employment.
I spent a summer as a Communications and Social Media intern at the Minnesota Women's Consortium. As a young feminist, I was thrilled to work with the community of women in the Twin Cities and across greater Minnesota. The Consortium is an umbrella organization that offers a place for agencies to work together on issues affecting women and girls in Minnesota on topics ranging from affordable housing to promoting access to reproductive health care. The scope of member organizations is vast, and a little overwhelming for a young graduate! Yet, my experience at the Consortium was invaluable.
For many moons, I had a hard time articulating what exactly I gained by interning there. So I pulled out a moleskin notebook and started to reflect on why my internship made me more ready for my next career step:
As a big believer in the purpose driven life, I tackled the easiest part by answering the question, "Why did you intern with the Consortium?" Time and again, studies show that the education of "the girl child" and increasing female presence in positions of power leads to a more verdant future. I wanted to promote the advancement of women locally and globally because I think that it will lead to economic and societal development.
Next, I wrote a list of all of the tasks that I performed regularly. No matter how ”small” they were or infrequently I performed them - I included them all on my list. Then, I filtered the list to figure out which tasks made the most impact. Through this exercise, I was able to pinpoint the skills I gained, including writing concisely for wide audiences, cold calling donors, and effectively messaging on social media.
I also reflected on my continued involvement with the Consortium. In addition to my internship, I volunteered and attended events, including trainings and educational experiences that I may have missed out on otherwise. I wrote up brief summaries of these activities as a record of my efforts to undertake community service and continuing education.
By taking the time to reflect upon and document my experience as an intern, I am now able to share how that experience helped me grow and make me a strong job candidate. Not only do I discuss why I love the Consortium, but I also emphasize what my time there taught me. I keep these reflections in my career development tool belt to clearly communicate how that experience prepared me for what is yet to come!
What methods do you use for evaluating and reflecting on previous internships or work experiences?