How I created my own internship

By Raquel Richards

The DIY Internship

The trickiest internship to land might be your first. Many companies and organizations won’t consider internship candidates before their junior year. But, in order to land a blockbuster internship, students need entry-level experience to get prepared for pre- and post-graduate opportunities.Your starter internship, one typically fulfilled within the first two years of college, will require little previous experience and will be learning-focused. Unfortunately these (often unpaid) internships can be hard to snatch. If you are having trouble finding an internship this summer, you are not alone.The good news? There are other options.

The summer after my sophomore year I was given the opportunity to create my own internship. Here are a few of the steps I took to get there.

1. Define Your Skill Set

One of the first things I did was evaluate my strengths and weaknesses. Strengths: Internship at Rubber City Radio summer after freshman year, worked with ImPRessions for two years, PRSSA dues paying member, and strong social media skills. Weaknesses: No professional social media experience, My previous internship didn’t exactly relate to what I wanted to do in my next job, had only a few portfolio pieces, and wasn’t willing to move/travel. Evaluating my skill set helped me create my resume and develop a pitch. I also considered what I wanted to accomplish during my next internship.

What you can do: Figure out what you want out of your next internship, such as writing or traditional public relations experience. What skills do you hope to practice and gain? How much time are you willing to put into it? What interests you? What can you bring to the table? The internship hunt will require you to be self-aware. Once you begin to understand your strengths and weaknesses, figure out what you would like to improve, and start researching prospects.

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2. Find A Company In Need

From my experience this is where things started to get difficult. I thought about all the great skills I had, yet, I didn’thave a way to apply them. While in high school, I worked at a local ice cream shop, Bidinger’s Ice Cream, and I was returning for the summer to pick up some extra cash. The answer to my internship woes was scooped right into my cone: I would spend my whole summer working at Bidinger’s, so why not offer to lend some extra business help?

What you can do: I had the benefit of already knowing my employer. However, small businesses are always looking for new, inexpensive ways to garner new customers and improve their local presence. Look into local stores and businesses in your home town – think coffee shops, small bookstores, your public library, or anything else that isn’t on a franchise scale. How could your skills benefit their bottom line?

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3. Show What You Have To Offer

The next step was to offer up my skills. I talked to my boss, and suggested that he join the online world. Bidinger’s Ice Cream had been around since 1978, and it hadn’t changed much since then. I offered to create three different social media platforms: Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I showed Dave a portfolio of my previous work and demonstrated why it would benefit his business.

What you can do: Before you approach a business, do your research. Do they currently have a strong online presence? Do they work with an outsource company for their social needs? Would they be interested in changing their ways, or are they stuck in their old habits? Come up with a“problem”they have and convince them that you can be the “solution.”

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4. Let’s Talk About The Money

My boss was thrilled with what I had to offer. He wanted to me to implement all three social media platforms and control them for the remaining season. Dave offered to raise my hourly pay for the summer, and he compensated me when some projects that required extra cost.

What you can do: Although my experience might be unusual, it is possible for anyone willing to get bold and creative. The best rule of thumb: don’t expect to be paid; make them want to pay you. Go into it thinking that you will benefit the company, and in return, you will receive strong portfolio pieces, good resume content, and a cool story. Although getting paid is ideal, you have to start somewhere. A Quote that kept me positive through my whole experience came from The University of California, Berkeley’s career center. It said, “An internship experience that you’ve created to be specifically tailored to your academic and career interests will be far more rewarding than a position you settled for because it was all you could find.”One of the most rewarding parts of creating your own internship is the story. When future employers ask you about your experience, they will be impressed with your tenacity and willingness to create your own opportunities. There really is no excuse for you to not to be constantly learning and growing in your field. Make the most out of every situation, or create it all on your own.

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Raquel Richards is a senior studying Strategic Communications with a minor in Marketing. After graduation she would love a job in the Marketing Agency. Follow her on Twitter @RaquelMRichards!
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