Wednesday, June 13th, 2012 (according to my Timehop), my newest tweet read: “Just got to sit in and watch the @KPRCLocal2 11AM live newscast in the studio! Can’t wait until I’m behind the desk one day! #internship.”
Thursday, June 13th, 2013 (according to my memory), I was in the third week of my editorial internship at Broadway.com in New York City, convinced I was ready to pick up and move across the country to pursue a destined career in entertainment news.
Today, Friday, June 13th, 2014, I’m not sitting behind a news desk or covering the opening night of a Broadway production. I’m sitting here, at my parent’s house, days away from starting my first full time job…in public relations.
Wait what? Public Relations?! But you just said…
…yeah, I did, but turns out I was wrong.
We’ve all heard the expression, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” We’ve listened, laughed, and even remained a bit skeptical of this thought-provoking but better-suited-for-Pinterest quote while continuing on, what we think, is our destined trajectory. For me, this trajectory led to the anchor desk. Life moved it to the marketing office.
In the years leading up to college, I was warned I would want to change my major. “College freshmen change their major an average of three times,” others told me, “so what you think you want may not be what you actually pursue.” I took this advice with a grain of salt. I was given a lot of worthwhile, valuable advice in college (still getting used to that being in the past tense…), but regarding my major, I was spot on from day one (from 7th grade, to be specific) with graduating with a degree in journalism. And countless journalism courses, hundreds of hours spent at Texas Student Television, and three internships later, I was still dead set on both graduating and pursuing a career in journalism.
And then the fourth internship came along.
You always hear about the right internship. The one you’ll inevitably find and fall in love with, the one you remember most about your time in college, or the one that landed you your first job. But, unless it’s absolutely catastrophic and/or the source of some hilarious work stories, you rarely hear about the wrong internship. Finding the right job is dependent on finding that right internship.
But my experience depended on finding those wrong ones.
I loved every single internship I had. Two straight up, newsroom gigs, one summer adventure on Broadway, and a semester delving into public relations adorn my resume, and all four helped me land the full time job I start next week. I enjoyed shadowing reporters, turning packages, appearing on camera to introduce stories, and practicing anchoring a top 10 news market broadcast, but there’s a reason I’m not doing that on Tuesday. That reason? Unbeknownst to me at the time, an internship I thoroughly succeeded at was that wrong internship. Why? I found something I love even more, thanks to my marketing internship at Austin’s Long Center. I found somewhere I could implement my degree, apply my journalism skill set, and go beyond the scope of the newsroom while still utilizing my love of broadcast. My newsroom and PR internships were worthwhile; both were educational, both were enjoyable, and both produced a successful, skilled product (me). But one internship: the PR one, the right one, showed me that the other: the newsroom one, was indeed the wrong one…for me. It didn’t matter that my degree, resume and work experience reflected a trajectory towards the newsroom (though that route would have been the easier one). What now mattered was the challenge of taking that degree, resume, and work experience, and selling those unique skills in a new field.
It’s not necessarily about what you’re talented at, what you think you should do, or even what you’ve dedicated your entire college career to doing. It’s about what you want to do, every day, for the majority of your career, and if it takes one or two “wrong” internships to determine that? That’s a pretty small and valuable price to pay.
Here’s to the real world. And here’s to June 13th, 2015’s social media post reflecting on a fantastic year.