Published: Sunday, September 9, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Something that’s become ultimately synonymous with the summertime among the Boston College population is the internship. It seems that most students on our campus are very interested in having at least one or two internships in their time as undergraduates, usually in order to carve out a career path or to get good work experience.
The summer internship usually takes the form of an entry level position where a student can learn the ropes of a certain field. With such an entry-level position, however, interns can sometimes find that they are not urgently needed where they work, and they often have a lot of down time or perhaps plenty of time to get coffee for other coworkers.
For driven BC students, internships can allow voracious students to try their hands in the real working world and reap a ton of benefits when it comes to learning about a corporate field, a business, or an organization.
Katherine Bildsten, A&S ’13, a senior who says she has always wanted to work in the advertising business, interned in the account services division of an advertising agency in Boston this summer called Mullen. “I worked with account executives, whose job is to oversee the agency’s accounts, maintain a good relationship with the client, and represent them within the agency,” she said. “I worked on two very different clients, Foxwoods and Ernst & Young.”
Rather than pick up the slack around the office and run errands, Bildsten had many responsibilities as an intern on a daily basis, including a special advertising project created exclusively by Bildsten and fellow interns.
“Day-to-day I marked up ads, had client calls, sent out schedules to stations that would be running our ads, and did competitive research,” Bildsten said. “I also worked on a project with four other interns, where our assignment was to use social and digital to solve a problem we identified. We started an initiative called City of Firsts, which encouraged Bostonians to snap out of their day-to-day routine and asked, ‘When was the last time you did something for the first time?’ I worked a 40-hour week, but ended up going about two to 15 hours over some weeks, usually for the intern project.”
Bildsten figured out that she wanted the Mullen internship in the first place after her first internship. “I interned at another Boston agency, Hill Holliday, the fall of my junior year,” she said. “I decided I wanted to do something just as fast-paced and with a similar client set, and that it would be good to experience a different agency and department. Mullen is growing incredibly fast and winning a lot of new business, made Fast Company’s list of Most Innovative Companies, and was recently an Ad Age Agency A-List, so I knew I’d be in great company. The fact that it was paid was a definite plus.”
Internships are first and foremost supposed to be learning opportunities, and many BC students like Bildsten take that notion and run with it. Mike Barilli, CSOM ’13, claims that one of the most important things he learned from his summer internship at Northwestern Mutual in New York City, as a Financial Representative intern, was just how to act among adults in a corporate setting.
“I basically learned about office etiquette, more specifically how important it is to remember people’s names after a formal introduction,” Barilli said. Even the simplest day-to-day internship customs can be learning opportunities.
Regardless, many students who have interned over the summer report that their internships were often a waste of time for various reasons. But these positions, no matter what they entail, are not taken for granted by many BC students.
“It was an incredible way to spend my summer,” Bildsten said of her time at Mullen. “The people I worked with were so smart and talented, and many of them were in their 20s and 30s, so it was great to have mentors who had recently been in my position. Ad agencies generally have a fun office environment, because everyone’s job is to be creative, so there was never a dull moment. My friends often commented that I worked too much, especially when I spent time at home on my intern project, but I felt it was worth it, because I really enjoyed my work and felt valued. Advertising has long hours, so the hours I worked were really nothing.”
Other students appreciated their summer internships for the compensation or to boost their resume. “Basically, I took my job as a resume builder … It was a good idea, so I did it,” Barilli said. “If it wasn’t paid, I wouldn’t have done it. Would I call my experience a waste of time? No. Would I call it a wild success? Absolutely not.”
In the game of internships, students definitely win some and lose some, but in any case, through an internship they can still glean some life lessons, career knowledge, and a little cash over their undergraduate summers.