My first internship was with a friend of my aunt’s who worked for the Town of Yarmouth, Maine.
She was the only one in the Planning Department because the town was that small. My aunt knew her through the Waldorf school where my cousin attends, and when I announced that I wanted to be doing something over the summer on a regular basis, she mentioned the possibility of an internship with Vanessa. Within a few days of my aunt mentioning me as a possible intern, Vanessa confirmed she would love to have me as her intern. I started that next Monday and thus, I began my first internship!
Disclaimer: I was unpaid, but I got my lunches paid for and learned a lot, not to mention I got to put the internship with Vanessa on my resume, which led me to getting my next internship.
To apply for an internship can be cripplingly competitive, especially among larger businesses and establishments, regardless of whether the internship is paid or not. Because of the competitiveness among such internships, the chance for you to be beaten out by someone older with more experience is more likely to happen than not. Personally, I have found success in internships by starting small and then going bigger as I’ve gotten more experience. Especially for the ambitious high schooler, the small to big approach can be particularly beneficial, as most companies won’t even consider taking interns until their sophomore/junior year in college. However, to find an internship with a small, local establishment will take a bit of searching, networking, and being open to possibilities. Even if an available internship isn’t exactly what you imagine yourself doing for a career, learning, say, basic office skills within that internship will liken a possible employer to you more than if you don’t have the skills because you didn’t take advantage of the internship.
My first internship with Vanessa at the Town of Yarmouth was centered around urban planning. Although I knew I probably wasn’t going into planning as a career, learning how to coordinate events, manage social media and organize data within a city government setting was essential to me getting my paid internship with the City of Bloomington in the Mayor’s Office. As an intern, what type of internship you hold isn’t as important as how you verbalize applying that skillset to your future internship and/or career on your resume.
The last piece of experience I will give as a takeaway is to be active and ambitious in your search for a local internship. As a young student, whether in high school or college, one needs to put oneself out there to meet new people (network), to make one’s intentions known and then to pursue said intentions. Take initiative and walk into places you’ve never heard of before and ask about internship opportunities. This may take many people out of their comfort zones, but in order to grow and achieve your goals, you cannot always do what is comfortable, so put yourself out there, and say yes to internships with small, local establishments!
I wish all those out there happy internship hunting, and best of luck to you.