Guest Blogger: Caroline Albro
After months of filling out college applications, attending interviews, and visiting campuses, I was more than relieved when I finally arrived at college. I thought that I would have some time to relax and enjoy myself without a looming anxiety regarding my future. However, only a few months into college, I was suddenly faced with another pressure: to land the perfect summer experience. As my friends and I browsed the offerings on our college’s job site, we all sought something that would result in plenty of networking opportunities and, if we were lucky, a job offer after graduation.
As a college freshman at a liberal arts school, internships are one of the most important factors in figuring out what you want to do and making the connections to do it. Listening to the guidance from my career counselor and parents, I knew that I wanted an opportunity to explore my interests and work in an engaging environment. Still, it felt daunting to apply for summer jobs and internships when I have yet to figure out my major. On top of that, my friends occasionally mentioned their submitted applications at senatorial offices and major television networks. While I could have done the same and applied for uber-competitive positions, I realized that it was only my first summer in college. Instead of copying papers and taking coffee orders, I wanted to try something new and engaging, where I would spend my days contributing and working with others.
When first approaching the search for a summer internship, I consulted Handshake, my school’s online career service. Handshake advertises jobs, ranging from on campus to major companies, while providing a simple way to express interest and upload your information for employers to see. I also brainstormed a list of cool companies to work for and any fascinating positions. My list included things like “graphic designer” and “production assistant” as well as businesses and brands that I like. While some of the ideas may have been unrealistic, such as my dream to work at Pinterest as a college freshman, the brainstorm gave me a general understanding of the aspects I was looking for in my summer experience.
Ultimately, when I came upon a hiring poster at the dining hall for Explo, a summer enrichment program based at Wellesley College, I thought that it might be a good fit for my summer experience. The Explo website highlighted values of creativity, curiosity, and courage. Every summer, the program hires college students to teach middle schoolers about topics ranging from robotics to cupcake baking. Explo also hires college students to run their offices for summer, which is what I was really interested in. Throughout high school and into college, I became involved with design and production, and Explo advertised a paid position known as the “Atlas Editor” in their Programming Office. The Atlas Editor would create the daily schedule of activities and events on campus, and help out with anything marketing or communications-related. If I got the job, I would get to live in a dorm on the Wellesley campus and get paid. Additionally, I would be able to work with other college students from all over the country and explore the East Coast on my free weekends.
But in order to have this amazing opportunity, I would first have to endure the application process. And my program required a little more than just a resume. I had to provide three references, write a short essay, and note all of my achievements and extracurriculars. After that, I had a 30-minute interview with the assistant head of the program, who asked me questions like, “What are the top three best qualities in a leader?” The entire process reminded me of college applications all over again. After finally submitting the materials and waiting a few weeks, I found out that I had received the job. While most of my friends were still working away on applications, I was so happy to have figured out my plans.
Even though I may not make an entire career out of this one summer job, I know that it will help me explore my career options and interests. I will be contributing to a project that I am invested in, and one day can use in applications for future internships and post-graduation jobs.
Caroline Albro attends Scripps College in California. In high school she was the editor of her school's magazine, The Mark, and currently is a design associate for the Claremont College Newspaper The Student Life. In her free time she enjoys spending time in the outdoors, reading, and perusing Pinterest. She is considering a major in media studies