Meredith Berman is a junior majoring in communications and psychology at the University of Michigan. She is interning at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in Alexandria, Virginia.
By Meredith Berman
After attending a talk at my school by Lauren Berger, the Intern Queen, I immediately panicked about not having an internship. If she had 15 internships while in college, I could at least have one. How hard could it be to find a communications related summer internship in DC? It turns out, a lot harder than I thought. The problem was not the lack of opportunities, but the plethora. I needed a way to manage the process.
My roommate suggested I use Internships.com. After uploading my resume, I saved my search criteria and set up email alerts. I loved searching by zip code and company type. I guess I was too broad in my zip code search since my commute is an hour and half each way, including driving and metroing time. I definitely recommend narrowing down that parameter. I checked Internships.com daily for new postings meeting my criteria. I am unsure how many I applied to, but pretty soon I had a few interviews.
On my first day at the Society for Human Resource Management, I knew this internship would be an incredible experience. I was stunned when I attended a meeting and was asked for my opinion on a matter. From the beginning, I have always felt like a valuable part of the team. My thoughts and ideas are respected and I am heading my own projects. I finally understand the importance of interning. It is more than something I can put on my resume. As the Member Programs intern,I compile data for SHRM student chapters,write articles for the student publication, edit the publication, and plan events. While these are marketable skills for my next internship search, I am also making connections and learning the ropes of professional etiquette.
This internship has taught me so much more about communications than any of my classes. From writing articles, I learned strong writing is more than following strict essay guidelines. I built upon the skills I learned designing surveys for class projects to develop post-conference feedback surveys. While group projects have been a great way for me to develop my teamwork and presentation skills, the intern business case study exposes me to real-life work situations. My team’s assignment involves interviewing new hires and interns about what they look for in a work environment. At the end of the summer, my team will present our findings and suggestions to SHRM employees. It is a different group dynamic working with other interns to share data and ideas with our supervisors than trying to get an A on a project.
Before interning at SHRM, I was positive I wanted to pursue a career in healthcare PR. Even though this internship is unrelated to healthcare PR, I am happy I took it. I discovered PR is not the only career option for me. My advice to future interns is: take an internship even if it is not the field you think you want, (or the ideal commute). You might discover you love something completely different or really hate it. Either way, now is the time to find out what direction you want your career to go.
Meredith, thanks for taking the time to share this with us! Students, start searching for an internship now!