Lauren Marinigh

What My Internship Taught Me

By Lauren | December 19, 2016 | 0 Comment

I still remember interviewing for my first internship. In order to graduate from my public relations post-graduate program, I had to complete a month long internship in the communications industry. My school brought in a bunch of people from within the industry who were looking for interns to conduct interviews with us.

Somehow I got it stuck in my head that I needed to intern at a school board. I loved teaching when I worked abroad teaching English for three summers in Spain and it just seemed like a good way to combine my love for education and communications. I put all my eggs into one basket and only applied to interview with one organization and that was the Peel District School Board. That was the only one I wanted, so why waste other peoples time? However, looking back at it now, I probably shouldn’t have only set my mind on one.

Anyway, after landing an internship with the communications team at the Peel District School Board, I was so happy I almost cried. To top it off, my friend from class was also hired as the other intern. I felt like I was landing my “dream job” right out of school which felt awesome. Through my month and a half interning at the school board, I learned a lot about the industry and I also learned that this wasn’t really my dream job after all.

Throughout my time interning, I got to do so many awesome things. I had the chance to work and help with some of the big events that the school board hosted, I wrote many press releases, speeches, and even helped put together training manuals around social media for schools. I also had the chance to work with the research department to help conduct surveys with parents, all of which was incredibly interesting and gave me a good look inside what actually happens within the education sector.

What I was surprised to learn about was all the things I didn’t really realize a head office of a school board does. As a student, you don’t really think about this stuff. You don’t realize that when something major happens at a school or in the news, it’s the head office that swoops in to try and save the day. Although I personally didn’t get to work on anything like that, it was interesting to see how everything connects and works behind the scenes.

One month of my internship flew by, and I was excited when I was asked to stay for another month while I continued to job hunt for a full-time role. I was thrilled to get to stay longer, but also, within this time I realized that this wasn’t a place I really wanted to work beyond my internship. I had really thought working in public relations for the school board would be a dream, and to be honest, I don’t really know what I was expecting, however, I learned that this wasn’t my dream afterall.

My internship showed me that I didn’t really love the more traditional side of public relations. Writing press releases had become easy to me, I could pound one out in 15 minutes and it just wasn’t fulfilling. I hated doing any sort of cold calling, and helping run events was fun, but also not really for me. Having this internship was a blessing because I had the chance to try my hand at all these things outside of the classroom and realize what I liked and didn’t like about the industry.

At the point I landed my first full-time job and left the school board, I was desperate for any employer that would hire me and offer me a salary and didn’t really care what I was doing. But it worked in my favour that I didn’t get hired full-time on with the school board like the other intern, and instead, ended up in a role that focused a lot on social media marketing and also managing several employees. I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason, and this was definitely proof. Although at the time me wanting my dream job quickly turned to me wanting any job, it all ended up working out. Had I stayed in a more traditional PR role at a place like the school board, I wouldn’t have found my passion for social media and content marketing.

I also quickly learned that your “dream” job is going to change a lot throughout your career. When I was a student I saw myself in a large agency, when I graduated I wanted to be at a school board, and when I eventually landed a job working at Sheridan College for their Student Union, I realized my dream job was now to work in social media and content marketing. I never envisioned my career path leading me to working in the non-profit sector where I am now, and I’m thankful for each internship, job, and opportunity I’ve had that has helped guide me on my path to figuring out what I loved.

My internship was my first taste at the real world, and for that, I’ll always have a place in my heart for it and the people who gave me the opportunity to learn and discover myself. I definitely encourage every student or new grad who is completing an internship to have an open mind and use this as an opportunity to discover yourself and what you like. It may not end up being exactly what you wanted or pictured, but instead of dwelling on that, take everything you can from it before you move on. You never know where it may lead you.


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