Highlighting her experiences as an intern, Samantha Netzband offers some great advice on the best practices of being an intern. Samantha is a student at Syracuse University and was a business development intern at PAR Government, a technology solutions company. Samantha shared her story in this interview conducted by Jane Horowitz, More Than A Resumé.
Did you have specific career plans when you started college?
I’ve known since I was 12 years old that I wanted a career where I would solve problems and interact with and help people. I’m not strong in the sciences, so for me that meant becoming a family practice lawyer. As clear as I was, the journey to start law school was not.
I started Syracuse University as a triple major—English, Writing and International Relations. With my focus on law school, I found undergrad work frustrating; I didn’t want to wait four years to complete school. I decided to switch majors to political science, and then worked hard to complete school in two years. I start Syracuse College of Law this fall.
Tell me about your parents.
Both of my parents work for the government although in very different capacities. They instilled in me not specifically the idea of service, but doing work that helped people. My mother has said many times, “I don’t always get what you are doing, but I support your decision”. I’m very lucky to have that kind of support.
What experiences prepared you to start your first professional internship?
In the Spring 2015 I had an internship with the New York State Assembly. Although the work there didn’t directly prepare me for the internship I had this summer, I did start with an understanding of what is expected of interns and how to behave as a professional, not a student.
I’m glad I had that experience because I really didn’t know what I was getting into at PAR Government. It’s an information technology solutions provider to the government and I am not a tech person. There was a lot of complex, dense technical material for me to read and lots of report writing something I didn’t think I was good at but figured I would just have to learn as I went along. Fortunately, it turned out to be a good fit and very beneficial for both the company and me. I feel much more prepared to start law school.
What steps did you take to make sure you developed and learned skills from your internship?
My manager was very helpful. She asked me what I wanted to learn and what I wanted to get out of the experience. We discussed the good and the bad from my previous internship. When it comes down to it, you’re responsible for your own learning, but it helps when your manager gives assignments you will learn from. For example, in addition to reading technical material, conducting market research was new to me. I got to present the research findings to people all over the country. Having that experience will absolutely help me in law school.
What advice do you have for college students who are interning this summer?
I know in some companies internships are dirty work and sometimes people can be disrespectful to you because of that. One way for that not to happen is to see yourself as part of the team and just dive in right away, but don’t get too comfortable too quickly. You won’t know what minefields you’re walking into in the beginning. It’s also important to learn the company’s business and jargon used. The government uses a lot of acronyms and it was hard to understand what was expected until I learned them.
My advice is try to get an internship in the career you want but if you can’t, apply to other internship opportunities. I know I want to be a family practice lawyer, but also knew I was not going to get an internship in a law firm until I went to law school. I had internships in government, technology and a nonprofit. There are things to learn from every experience.
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