Get Creative When Looking for Your Internship

You Might Have to Consider Smaller, More Obscure Venues, and That's OK

By Published on .

Carly Rullman
Carly Rullman
When I was interviewing for my first job out of college, there was one part of my resume employers asked about most: my summer internship. But it wasn't the big name that grabbed their attention; in fact, not many people have heard of the place I interned for at all -- and that's what piqued their interest.

I interned at a private arts high school in Natick, Mass., called Walnut Hill. I could go on all day about this school, but the students are unbelievably gifted in one of five arts disciplines: music, dance, theater, visual art or creative writing. Anyway, I helped build the communications department. Some of my responsibilities included developing a fall communications plan; writing feature stories on faculty, students and programs; writing press releases; maintaining the website; and planning for a fall event within the town to attract locals.

I loved my internship, but Walnut Hill was not my first choice. I didn't even know about the intern opportunity until late into my search. Like my peers, I initially went for some of the most well-known companies in the country. I aimed high and was set on getting my top choices -- large firms that everyone in the industry knew and ones I was sure would speak volumes on my resume.

I quickly found out that applying for an internship is like applying to college all over again. There are limited spots and you are gunning for the same position as students who are equally qualified. And so, as college admissions can sometimes go, I did not get exactly what I wanted.

With summer inching closer, I reached out to relatives to see if they could throw anything my way. Sure enough, I found out about the PR internship at Walnut Hill from my cousin in New England. I was able to live with him for free, live in a cool town, earn a stipend and best of all -- I got a hearty and unique experience out of my internship.

My message here is that you don't have to land the most prestigious internship out there to make a big mark on your resume. And if you don't have the funds to live in NYC for a summer or need to actually make a little cash for your work, then get creative. Consider the resources you have, then go from there. Here are some questions to get your wheels spinning:

What connections do you have at particular places of work?

Could I propose having an intern to a particular company in my hometown?

Will this actually be a helpful learning experience or will I be running for coffee?

And finally, what family/friends might consider putting up with me for a summer?

A big-name company is not going to do all the talking during your first job interview, you are, and a potential employer will truly take an interest in a unique internship that provided you with hands-on experience.

Carly Rullman is from Charlottesville, Va., and recently graduated from The University of Alabama. She majored in public relations and Spanish and served on the award-winning Advertising Team, as well as the forensics speech team. She worked as an account executive selling advertising space and marketing for UAB athletics before becoming an account coordinator at Scout Branding in Birmingham, Ala. She also helped build the communications department at Walnut Hill School in Natick, Mass., through a summer internship.
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