I don’t think I can count the number of times I’ve been told that interning is simply “paying your dues.” I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s heard it. But only very recently did I begin to question the statement’s validity.
Oftentimes interns are plagued with mundane tasks that may or may not have anything to do with the industry into which they are attempting to break. I’ve washed cars, babysat employees’ children and even shopped for trees all in the name of “interning.”
This, indeed, falls under the category of paying my dues.
That is (hopefully obviously) not the true purpose of an internship. Sure, internships have become the first step to working your way up in the professional world, according to The Economist. But some companies only see an internship as serving the mere purpose of building a resume, or being simply a means by which connections are made.
PAN Communications sees more. Much more.
Granted, there is no doubt that internships can and should do both of these things: most interns hope to leave their positions with relevant updates to their LinkedIn profiles and a few meaningful connections that can attest to their own character, abilities and qualifications. But it certainly helps if the interns are a part of the team — encouraged to take full advantage the opportunity and not to just show supposed growth on a webpage or a piece of paper, but rather to actually apply their knowledge and broaden their practical experiences in the setting of their desired industry or field. Of course, this should help the company too since the applied experience of an intern translates to relevant productivity for the office.
I have friends with full-time, salaried positions who experience fewer aspects of their industry than I have in even my first few days at PAN Communications. Having worked at the company for less than a week, I have already been placed on five active accounts, invited to attend multiple “touch base” meetings where team members bring one another up to speed on their respective and collective progress with a particular client, assigned roles and tasks within these teams that will actually and directly benefit clients and encouraged to contribute to projects that have been under way for months prior to my arrival. Essentially, PAN has put in place an internship program that uses practical, hands-on experience as a means of progress and promotion.
Everyone from AAEs to the President of the company has genuinely made themselves available to help the interns and new hires, going out of their way to ensure that we have what we need to fulfill our roles and complete our tasks to the best of our abilities. In fact, every employee at the company, from top to bottom, is considered valuable for far more than their position – PAN treats everyday like it’s Employee Appreciation Day. In the particularly time-sensitive world of agency PR, where it’s sometimes hard enough to find 30 seconds for a lunch break let alone 30 seconds to answer the question where one can find so-and-so’s desk, mere mental presence is frequently the highest form of respect one can give. The team at PAN Communications chooses to give it not just to their own higher-ups, but also to the new hires and interns coexisting in the office.
This is what internships are about. With PAN, I’m not merely “paying my dues.” I’m contributing. I’m taking advantage of opportunities. I’m earning trust.
I’m becoming part of a team.