When You Don’t Know What to Do, Interning is Right for You

Posted on Friday, Jul 07, 2017

After teaching and being in education for some years, I decided to attend graduate school. I knew the direction that I wanted to go but I wasn’t sure quite what job I wanted to have. Like more people than one would realize, students are entering college with having an idea of what they want to do but that changing quite a bit when they get there. I was one of those students.

I started undergrad studying biology and wanting to be a doctor because I didn’t flinch when I watched surgeries and I liked a popular show of TLC about ER doctors and their lives. I figured that I would like the rush even though I wasn’t in love with science. After some time on that track, I decided to not study to be a doctor anymore but to be a professor. I then had a huge life changing situation happen and I switched to study social work. I knew that I was closer than I had ever been before but hadn’t quite found my fit. Finally, I switched to studying education and I fell in love.

You may wonder why I just walked you through the entirety of my undergrad experience. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you in the next sentence. The one thing that I was missing as I was on my search was that I didn’t have any internships. I was sort of floating and trying to find my way. The reality is that this summer, I have had the freedom to explore what I’m interested in or even what I think I’m interested in. Furthermore, I’m exploring things that I didn’t think I was interested in. I’m finding that there’s so much even in those things that didn’t sound alluring at first.

 Another reality is that I’ll be working for the next 40+ years so it’s important that I find something that makes me happy. If you don’t know what to do, an internship suits you. Find one in the career that you think you want and try it on for size. College is an investment in your future and for the long term. Though it’s hard to know what you want to do at 18 or most ages before 30, this is your time to explore.

I’m a little older than 18 but realized even after working for 5 years that I needed a time to figure out what I wanted to do. I’m so thankful for my internship because, I think I’m closer than ever.

I’ve heard so many of my peers say that they weren’t quite sure of their career path. Transparently, I’m on the path of discovery too BUT had I interned multiple times over the summers that I had in undergrad, I might have had a better idea.

For those in grad school that may have a better idea of what they want, I’d still recommend interning. It could be a time to hone in on your interests or build connections in the job market that you’ll face before you know it.

I have learned so much this summer and have been incredibly thankful for that opportunity. It is invaluable. If you can float it and you’re thinking about getting an internship, do it. You won’t regret it.

One last message for those who are still figuring out what they want to do with their lives (IE most living people below 30 and sometimes older!). It’s ok to not be sure as long as you are making moves forward.

With all that said, I’d like to close by wishing you good luck in your next steps forward. I hope that an internship is in your near future.

Leticia "Tish" Alilionwu
Association of Public & Land Grant Universities
Washington, D.C. | summer 2017