It’s Okay to Intern After Graduation

With college seniors having just graduated, I wanted to share my post-grad experience. I was a May 2010 Public Relations graduate from the University of Maryland, and I am grateful that I interned after college.

I had my fair share of of internships and work experience throughout college, and like most of my classmates, had been applying for full-time jobs for months before graduation. A lot of our in-class discussion revolved around who had been lucky enough to have landed a job already or had been hired full-time from their internships.

I felt uneasy as graduation loomed and I still had no plan, so I decided to focus my time on getting an internship. However, many entry-level jobs call for up to 2 years of experience, and I didn’t have anything close to that on my resume. I was frustrated and didn’t even think I would get an interview based on this research. Because of this, I decided to focus on getting an internship.

I was lucky enough to apply for an internship at a small agency in Washington, D.C. that needed help with a big project – and I applied at the perfect time. I finally had a plan after graduation. Additionally, I felt qualified for the position, which made it easier to transition from student-life to work-life. I was finished my learning in the classroom (for now), and it was time to learn in the field.

The whole experience was great. Working a full-time internship is very different than the Monday, Wednesday, Sometimes-Friday plan I had been on my senior year. I was allowed to fully integrate myself into the agency. I attended bi-weekly staff meetings, contributed to client deliverables and met clients when they came to the office. I got to know my colleagues well.

As time went on, I dove deeper into media and marketing projects and was given real responsibility. I know I had proven myself and by September I was asked to come on full-time. I had made it – and had lost nothing and gained a lot of experience along the way.

So, college seniors: don’t discount an internship after graduation. Interning allows you to decide if what you’re doing is really want you want to do (Luckily, for me it was!). You’re not tied to a salary or vacation days- take a few days off and celebrate your graduation. Congrats!

About the Author
Maeve Atkins is an Account Assistant at Griffin & Company, Inc., a marketing communications agency in Washington, D.C. In 2010, Atkins earned a bachelor’s degree in communication with a concentration in public relations from the University of Maryland. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter via @maeveatkins.

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6 comments on “It’s Okay to Intern After Graduation

  1. I finished by degree in Public Relations and Communications in May this year and had started an internship before I even finished. Working full time while finishing off the busiest part of my university life wasn’t ideal, obviously, but I saw an opportunity that I really didn’t want to miss so took the pluge.

    Two months into a three month internship I was hired by the company, and now, four months after my initial contact with the company, I’m working full time as an affiliate manager, so internships are a totally worthwhile experience. Having said that, an internship shouldn’t be entered into lightly.

    Not being paid for a part time or two week work experience deal is one thing, but working 40 hours a week and getting nothing is not pratical for many people who don’t have a great deal of support from family, leaving the most interesting internships to be people with a background that can support them earning no money at all for months at a time.

    Some internships pay, but, here in the UK at least, they are the exception – not the rule. Mine paid for my travel which was a fairly hefty sum as I was commuting 100 miles a day into London when I first started. There were some that gave minimum wage or paid for lunch as well as travel, but so many London internships simply expected you to fund everything yourself. As someone without a lot of support, I burned through the last part of my student loan to finish my own internship, and I’m still trying to recover finacially now.

    With this in mind it’s really important that graduates make sure they get something out of an internship, because not every internship is going to result in a job. Just having something on your CV is great, but actually have something to show from it is worth a lot more.

    My company actually has a new intern in now and we’re making a point to make sure he leaves with as varied experience as we can give him, and that he has something he can take away from the experience for his study, but not ALL companies treat interns this way. If you aren’t getting paid and all you’re doing for three months is data entry or photocopying and making tea/coffee, you need to ask yourself if it’s a worthwhile experience.

  2. I agree with you, Robert, that not all internships are created equal, and it is especially hard not to get paid. Luckily, I had a good experience AND I could live with my parents before I was hired full-time and could support myself. Without that support there is no way I could have interned and managed to get by financially. You made a good point that an internship may not be worth it if the intern is merely getting coffee everyday!

  3. I want to thank you for writing about your experince and sharing it with others. I also graduate in 2010 it has been difficult for me to find a job in the industry. I feel the longer I am out of the public relations industy the harder it will be for me to a job in communications. While I am working full time I have been unsuccesful in finding a job in public relations.

    I have applied for countless jobs in companies with a communication department and a few angency; however I have noticed that the internships they offer are credit internships for those still in school. Do you have any advice on how to approach the human resource department on considering hiring an full-time intern instead of a student intern?

  4. Getting an internship after graduating is a lot easier said than done. I just graduated a couple months ago and was in a similar situation. I have been unable to find a job because everywhere I looked companies were wanting at least 2+ years experience, which I also did not have. I have, for the past month, turned my attention to finding a internship and am having a very hard time because just about every company wants you to be a current student to qualify for their internship. Many won’t even accept your application if you have already graduated.

    Any advice on how to approach my search or places I can look? I know the economy is still pretty terrible and getting a job in general can be a challenge. I have been applying to every type of job imaginable, even if it wasn’t part of my original major or plan in college.

    Any suggestions?

  5. Hi Cami, thanks for your note. I am not sure what city you are in, but there are bound to be internships that do not require interns to be students. Sign up for job updates via MediaBistro or Indeed, or apply for internships at companies that may not even have listings up yet. Often organizations need an intern, but do not list these positions like they do permanent ones. If you are looking in PR, scour your city’s agency websites for internship classes – many have set deadlines for fall, spring and summer internships, and many of them encourage recent graduates to apply as well.

    Hope this helps.

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