In the media lately, there has been much debate over what internships should be. On my second day as an intern at Current360 news of lawsuits, filed on behalf of interns at Fox Searchlight Pictures aired and was the subject of debate for weeks to come. Naturally this news caught my attention as a newly planted intern, but I quickly discovered this was not going to be the stereotypical coffee / lunch / fourth meal/ ordering position. There was work of my own to be done, and not the kind that requires brooms or dust pans (at least not yet).
I was given an assignment of piecing together an instructional video for WaterStep, a client that specializes in clean water outreach. If you’re not familiar with their organization, you should be. Amongst other things, they send water purification systems to areas of the world that are in dire need of clean water. So wait, you’re telling me I get a project of my own? With a clean canvas and almost unlimited amount of creative freedom? And it’s for a great cause? Yep.
This was exactly the type of experience I was looking for. I wanted to get entangled into the system, to gain an understanding of how this whole business works. I wanted to sit in production meetings and see for myself how a project goes from concept to camera to television. Such inner-workings of the collaborative process are what I needed to experience for myself, and in my opinion that’s what an internship should really be about. In a months time I have attained practical knowledge and experienced some of the more subtle nuances of advertising that frankly, a classroom could not provide me.
So comparing my experience with that of the aforementioned plaintiff’s and friends of my own, I recognize how incredibly lucky I have been to get such an opportunity. However stifling the situation might be, education is and always will be what you make of it.
So if your finishing up your college career and weighing the opportunity costs of that epic summer (which you will most likely forget) vs. an internship that could pay dividends in the long run… go with the latter.