Although an internship is a vital piece of any junior or senior’s college experience, finding and applying for the right one can be fraught with difficulty and second guessing. I have found that through my experience, sometimes college kids might be putting a little too much emphasis on finding the “perfect” internship and not enough on taking a few chances at the time in their life when it is best to do so.
My internship was not taken on a whim, and I certainly don’t advise that any students reading this take my advice to be advocating such a thing, but rather it was found in an unexpected place and was not in the same field that I had imagined myself trying to get an internship in during most of my college years.
Let me first say that my major was in economics, and while Oglethorpe University definitely has, in my eyes, the finest economics faculty in the city, I didn’t really see myself going forward in the field once my studies ended. Therefore I was at a bit of a crossroads when it came to potential career paths.
One day I was hanging out in the Goodman computer lab when I saw a posting on the bulletin board in the hallway for a search marketing internship. My curiosity was piqued as I had been discussing the world of internet marketing with a friend of mine merely a week or so earlier.
Having never really seen myself as a marketing type of person, I decided to take a chance. Because in my mind the worst that could happen was I would find the field not for me and start over from scratch, wiser and without having lost anything. Not to mention that it helped that the work done during this internship was well compensated, a rare sight in today’s world of unpaid internships.
When I began working for the company, a fast growing pest control e-business in Norcross known as Do My Own Pest Control, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had only a passing knowledge of the specific things that make search marketing so effective, and while the marketing classes at Oglethorpe had given me a good basis in the ideals behind getting one’s message out there, it soon became clear that I had a lot to learn about the ins and outs of what is known as “inbound marketing” that is such a vital portion of an e-commerce site’s success.
My primary duty during the internship was to write small and informative articles on the products and pests that the company deals with day to day. And it was here that my education from a liberal arts college such as Oglethorpe really began to show its worth. Being comfortable with and proficient in writing was a great skill to have, and one that many schools do not go to great lengths to impart on their students. In addition to the strength of the economics curriculum itself, the insistence on excelling at written communication through the core curriculum is one of the greatest things that Oglethorpe has to offer.
Taking a chance on the internship itself proved to be a good decision, as I enjoyed the work and found myself learning quite a bit about the world of search engines and search marketing. This was enhanced by the fact that the head of the internet marketing team at the company had weekly training sessions that were both informative and interesting to attend, and really helped to give more meaning to the more abstract writing I was doing for the job. It helped to know exactly why things on the internet are set up the way they are, and virtually all of this knowledge was new to me, having come from a scholastic background in economics.
As the internship wound down, I was beginning to worry about finding a full time job, but I felt more confident going into the job search with the skills I had acquired over the summer. Any worrying about job searching however was alleviated when I was offered a full-time position in the same marketing capacity that I had been assisting with as an intern.
So looking back, the combination of the skills I learned at Oglethorpe and the willingness to take a chance on an internship that wasn’t necessarily within my field of study led me to a job in which I’m very happy and learning new things about the world of e-commerce every day. So my advice to those students currently sweating over exams and internships, don’t worry so much…and consider taking the same sort of chance I did.
Sam Hutcheson ’11 is part of the search marketing team at DoMyOwnPestControl.com. Started in 2004, it is currently one of the fastest growing pest control companies in the United States.