Internship Expectations Versus Reality

In March, college seniors were forced to leave campus for the last time in a moment’s notice. Companies canceled, delayed or changed their hiring processes and internships. The current economy is full of uncertainty, leaving no one with a clear answer about what the future holds.

Global health crisis or not, the time before college graduation and “adulting” has always been full of unknowns and what-ifs – including what to do after graduation. And today’s college graduates face significant and previously unseen hurdles.

The biggest piece of advice for soon-to-be or recent college grads is to give yourself grace. Everyone is navigating the new normal. Use this time to invest in yourself and your future. Build your personal brand, network and connect. Take this time to hone your skills and discover your strengths and interests.

If you’re hesitant to apply for a post-grad internship (versus a full-time job), know you are not alone. An internship can seem unpredictable in an already big time of transition. But have no fear, there is so much opportunity in an internship.

Post-graduate interns receive on-the-job training and development and a crash course in adulthood. You learn strengths, weaknesses, interests and opportunities with the support of people dedicated to your growth and development in a short time. Internships also allow you to build your portfolio, grow through feedback and build connections.

Beehive was my fifth internship. I previously worked in Manhattan, Ohio and Minnesota – at big corporations and small companies, and in technology, marketing and public relations. I assumed I had done and seen it all when it came to internships. Yet I saw a  new opportunity in the Beehive internship before I even stepped through the door at The Hive.

So, I accepted the Beehive internship and moved to Minnesota from New Jersey without visiting the space or even meeting the team in person. And my internship with Beehive ended up being nothing like I experienced before or expected.


Expectation: It’s a small company. Would I be bored?

Reality: It is impossible to be bored at Beehive. Because it is a small agency, you can connect with each team member and quickly find a project. There is always something that needs an extra set of hands and always something new to learn.


Expectation: It might be hard to find where I fit in within a tight-knit group of 14 people.

Reality: No matter your level, you are respected as a team member. My co-workers at Beehive took the time to learn my strengths, trust biases, preferred acts of appreciation and how I fit into the team. They included me in meetings and social conversations right from the beginning.


Expectation: I’ll be on the agency marketing team. Would there be enough to learn?

Reality: In six short months, I was able to learn the data analytics side of marketing, how to design marketing processes, the importance of backlinks, rankings and SEO – and more. This was all new information and key learnings. Beehive made it a point to add me to brainstorms and working sessions so I could have the necessary knowledge to participate in conversations.


Expectation: Media lists, media lists, and more media lists.

Reality: The Beehive internship offered me thought-provoking projects beyond the occasional media list. The majority of my work was writing the monthly newsletter, defining new processes to streamline projects, managing marketing efforts and contributing to client projects.


Expectation: Will I just be doing coffee and lunch runs for my coworkers?  

Reality: Quality internships rarely involve regular coffee or lunch runs for co-workers. But, most internships will include administrative tasks. A small portion of my position at Beehive was supporting office administration. By doing that, I learned even the smallest tasks are important to maintaining a healthy workplace, strong client relationships and positive energy.


If you are a current student or recent graduate, don’t judge an opportunity at first glance, don’t assume you know everything and don’t assume you already know what you want. I challenge you to see the opportunity in the unknown. Your expectation is likely to not be your reality. And you’ll definitely learn something.


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