An internship wasn’t really something I was looking for when I walked into the career fair at the University of Tampa. All I was looking for was a typical job for a typical college freshman: a coffee shop barista or a position at the mall. The majority of the jobs at this event were just that, except for one. Everyone was wearing street clothes and standing behind a display table each employer had set up. Not JV.
JV was standing in front an empty table, wearing a nice suit, and shaking hands with the students while taking notes based on what their conversations. This was a guy I wanted to talk to.
He did not know exactly what he was looking for in the person he was going to hire, but he explained that the job was going to be in marketing and promotions. I could tell this was a new and emerging company and the vague job description fascinated me.
Little did I know this was going to be the most important event I attended in 2014 because I landed my first paid internship.
Recently, JV asked me to write a blog post about the importance of an internship for the college student and what employers are looking for. I honestly was not planning on looking for an internship until I was a junior, but fortunately, I landed one when I was a freshman, working for Conscious Millionaire. The Gods must have been looking out for me because freshman year is the time to start getting an internship.
If a student waits until he is a junior, like everybody else, it will be much more difficult to get one that is rewarding and educational. So why wait? What extra skills does a 20 year old have compared to an 18 year old? The answer is not many. College classes teach about workload management (which a successful student should have learned in high school) and a variety of facts that may help you avoid Googling something down the road. My business textbook may have been one of the most irrelevant reads I took on this past spring. During my time at CM, I learned about business ethic, terminology, how to do effective research, and business software. No one in by Business 101 class had even heard of HootSuite or LeadPages, let alone even had a LinkedIn account. This was all valuable beyond measure.
That’s pretty much it, but jumping into the field of your choice as early as possible is the number one way to separate yourself from your competition. Real work experience is just a valuable and more practical than classroom learning.
If you work all throughout college, you will be way ahead of the group at graduation. Any college careers person will tell you do try and get as many internships as possible that fit with your work-load. They also tell you some of the most important internships are the ones in which you discover the careers you really don’t want to pursue. It is much better to learn this through real-world experience rather than floundering at something you ultimately dislike. Fortunately for me, my time with J.V. confirmed my desires rather than denied them.
On my last night in Tampa, JV and I were working until 1AM. During that time we talked about many things, but I had to ask the question. This is a question that had been on my mind since my first day on the job. Why me? Why did he select me over all of the other individuals he talked to and interviewed for this position? This was the work I thought I would be doing right after I graduated, and I was still only a freshman. He took a long pause, and then he went on to explain to me what employers are looking for in employees and why I stood out from the other applicants.
Employers have a hard time hiring Millennials because of the way they think. Our culture has turned into one in which no one is ever satisfied with where they are. I see it with my friends all the time. We may have plans to go out and do something, but the instant something slightly more entertaining comes up, many of them will drop everything and go do that thing.
Many of my friends are opportunists, and that’s why I do not consider them best friends. Enjoying the moment is a dead art for my generation, which makes them virtually un-hireable. Who wants to employ someone who is constantly looking for something better than the job? Trust is the most important aspect of a relationship between employee and employer. I get why people do not want to hire me because of my age. A lot of people my age are untrustworthy opportunists so they group us all in the same category. JV saw that I would be committed and dedicated to the work and not looking to quit the second something potentially better came along.
JV talked about how he could tell if a person is going to be a valuable member of the workforce after a few weeks on the job. A major flag he would see is if the worker was entitled. The key thing that older generations cannot relate to from Millennials is the sense of entitlement that we have. We feel that because our parents became successful, we automatically will achieve the same level they did without putting in the work. If I had that same mentality, I would not have survived a single day working at Conscious Millionaire. Although there was a lot of work, I loved what I was doing and could never slack off.
We all have worked with slackers. Even at times we have been that slacker, but in the working world, that is not something you can get away with anymore. I was fortunate enough to have a pretty flexible schedule while working for JV, but I still needed to put in the work. It did not really matter how the work got done, it just needed to get done in the most efficient manner necessary. If I did not put in all my effort to a task at hand, I would feel as if I was cheating JV as well as myself. If I could do a task really well, that freed up my time to take on even more tasks, which results in more learning. That is a key mindset to have while in the working world.
It was amazing coming home this summer and bragging to all of those kids who belittled me in business classes in high school, just because their parents had business connections and I didn’t. I now know far more than they do and they were incredibly envious of me. JV’s internship paid me in knowledge and experience, which is far more valuable than the money. Not only am I more versed in the business world, I now have begun establishing relevant skills for my resume. The experiences this job has given me has made me grow so much as a business professional more than I can express. I honestly would work at Conscious Millionaire forever, but I still need to get a college degree and moving to Colorado is not in the plan. I still do a little work for JV on the side, but I am currently applying for other jobs in the business world. I am confident in my search because this experience… and I’m only a sophomore.