I’ll admit, I was spoiled the last two summers when it came to internship hunting. I was fortunate enough to land a position as an editorial intern at the largest city magazine in Cincinnati as a freshman [!!!] and was asked back the following summer for a position as a digital intern. I had loved my time at Cincinnati Magazine so much the first summer, that when I was offered an opportunity to return, there was no question about it. I’m not sure if you know this, but it’s typically never that easy to land an internship in journalism, especially for someone so young. So yeah, I was spoiled and never really stressed too much about the search and application process.
This year was a different story. Although I had amazing experiences at Cincinnati Magazine [and I would be honored to return in the future, don’t get me wrong], I felt as if I should broaden my professional network during my last [hopefully] summer as an intern before I graduate and begin applying to full-time jobs. This time, I had to seek out dozens of opportunities, write cover letters and apply to each of them in the hopes that I would hear back from at least one. Fortunately, I landed an opportunity at CityBeat, one of the best weekly entertainment- and culture-focused newspapers in Cincinnati, and I start as an editorial intern this month!
In addition to having the opportunity to spend my summer interning, I learned three major lessons about the job application process that I was not aware of before. Here they are:
Dream big; don’t rule out any opportunity
Chances are, when you’re applying to jobs the first place you’re going to look at is LinkedIn, where you’ll find positions listed for major national brands. For a journalist, such brands include The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vogue, The New Yorker, etc. As college students, it can be easy to fall into the mindset of “I’m only 20 years old, I’ll never be hired there.” I’m guilty of this mindset as well, but one major thing I learned throughout this process is to DREAM BIG! Yes, the big name companies are going to have way more applicants than a smaller, local company, but don’t rule yourself out as a viable candidate! Trust in your experience and skills enough to realize that you have a lot to offer that company, and it never hurts to apply. Seriously, the worst they can do is not respond to your application and is that really so bad?
Sometimes you have to make decisions without having all of the information
As previously mentioned, the worst a company can do is not respond to your application, and in my experience this really does happen … a lot. Yes, it is discouraging and stressful at first, but one thing I realized is that sometimes you have to make decisions without having all of the information. For example, Company A may offer you a position and need an answer by Friday. But, Company B hasn’t even gotten back to you yet, though you’re certain they’re going to offer you an interview. Company B is paid and Company A is not, but Company A is a great networking opportunity. But then, what if you accept Company A and the next day get an offer from Company B?
Yes, this could very well be a real scenario. I know, because myself and my friends have been there. Unfortunately, you cannot control the rate at which a company does or does not get back to you, so there are going to be instances in which you have to make hard decisions. When this happens, the best thing to do is raise the pros and cons of each opportunity, and ultimately decide if holding out for a different opportunity is worth the risk of losing something that has already been offered to you.
Success is not measured through comparison
Comparison is a hard habit to break, and when applying to jobs it is easy to want to compare your offers and opportunities to that of your peers. This is such an unhealthy mindset to have because you’re always going to believe that the grass is greener on the other side. It takes practice, but it is important to remember that your success should be compared only to your journey and the progress you have made thus far. Evaluate the goals that you have for yourself, recognize what your ultimate end goal is and what market you are eventually hoping to excel in and then compare your opportunities against those goals, not against the offers your friends are getting that may appear “better” because “better” is a relative term.
What are some things you have learned throughout the job application and internship process? Share with me on Instagram!