The Internship: Why I Did One

When I started at the University of Illinois, I thought that I wanted to be in creative advertising. A warped perception of the advertising industry convinced me that what I really wanted to do was to create, design, and conquer Cannes.

My internship this summer at All Terrain Advertising in Chicago, Illinois was probably the best thing I’ve done for my career yet. My experience taught me that creating stuff is fun: It’s a hobby, and it’s something I will continue to pursue for the rest of my existence on this patchy soil. However, my motivation for advertising lies in the human experience.

My motivation for advertising lies in the human experience.

The human experience is something you can’t touch. It’s an idea, a way of thinking. I like to think of it as a certain ‘swagger’. It’s deriving insights from data. More importantly, It’s asking why.

I would not understand my passion without this internship because the working world is so different from what we read in books. I learned more than just how an agency functions. In fact, I learned everything from proper meeting etiquette to daily time management.

For example, at 22 years old, 8 hour work days sound like a long time. However, when I had a pitch due on Friday, a presentation on Wednesday, and a client crisis to resolve on Monday morning, I quickly learned that 8 hours is virtually no time at all. It’s learning how to handle yourself, it’s learning how to manage tasks, and it’s learning how to delegate that made the internship worth more than it’s monetary value.

I, along with many of my peers, took an internship that did not offer pay. What I could have used to buy those new sunglasses or that cool Calvin Klein sweater, I instead took as an intangible experience that makes me one hell of a job candidate.

I won’t be walking into an entry level position blind. In fact, I’ll have a pretty firm idea as to where I belong and how I can fit into the puzzle. That’s something no money can buy, and that’s something that every college student should experience and value.

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