An internship is an investment – not just in a company, but in yourself.
Landing an internship at a top firm is extremely competitive – you’re up against the best and brightest students in your peer group, most of whom have educational backgrounds and skill sets similar to yours.
What sets you apart in the eyes of prospective employers?
While your resume might be similar to other applicants in terms of background and skills, your ambition, attitude, experiences and emotional intelligence are unique to you. The interview is your chance to fully convey who you are and what sets you apart to prospective employers. It’s imperative to go in armed with an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses and prepared to explain how your experiences have shaped you into an ideal candidate for the position.
I transferred to Carolina as a junior and was accepted to UNC Kenan-Flagler. During my first year in Chapel Hill, I heard my classmates talking about their summer internships, adventures studying abroad and potential job offers. I was happy for my friends but also felt like I was missing out on something and began to feel an overwhelming pressure to land an internship.
After submitting 15-plus internship applications and not landing a position, I returned home for the summer with a lingering sense of self-doubt. But failure has a way of creating new opportunities and I soon realized that it was up to me to take control of my future.
That summer I completed a different kind of internship. I called it “The Internship of Me.”
The Internship of Me consisted of just one no-holds barred interview – with myself. This process of self-reflection forced me to examine the previous year of my life, acknowledge my flaws and determine how I could improve in those areas to better position myself for future internship and career opportunities. I broke down the areas that needed improvement into four categories: Personal objectives, academic goals, career-related ambitions and social life.
The process helped me realize that in order to grow, I needed to reinvent how I think, embrace fear, be open to new experiences and meet new people. And ultimately, I realized that the biggest obstacle I faced was my own self-doubt.
Making an investment in myself helped me recognize my strengths, improve on my weaknesses, overcome my self-doubt, strengthen relationships in my personal life and build new ones through networking, and prepare myself to find success academically and in future career searches.
My experience taught me that failure is a stepping stone on the way to new opportunities. We all have the capability to do amazing things – some just achieve their goals faster than others. There is no timetable or pre-requisite for success, but investing in yourself can certainly help. The Internship of Me is always accepting applications.
By Theo Prime (BSBA ’15)