When applying for summer internships, we all ask ourselves the same questions:
“What do I want to do?”
“Where do I want to be?”
“Could I see myself working there?”
And though many of us hope for it to be a fun, networking experience or a potential job — at the heart of wanting that internship is the comfort of knowing it can go on our LinkedIn’s and resumes. We have become accustomed to seeing our summer internships as just another bullet to add to our list of accomplishments, rather than taking the time to use it for personal growth.
I knew this to be true and wanted the summer before my senior year to be a true testament to this concept. Exactly a year ago, I began sending my résumé out in bulk to intriguing internships I had bookmarked over a few months time. From crisis communication firms in Washington, D.C., to entertainment agencies in New York, I searched everywhere for an internship that was going to make all of my other internships in the past look like childs play. And yet while corresponding with different organizations, I couldn’t help get the idea of doing an internship abroad out of my head.
In high school I did a four-month semester abroad in Israel, where I developed a deep love for the land. Though all of my IU friends were studying abroad in countries they had never been to, I wanted to immerse myself in Israeli culture, which I had slightly become accustomed to in high school. I began searching for any internship programs that wouldn’t completely break my bank account.
There were plenty of program options online, and I couldn’t seem to decipher one from the next. However, I mentioned my search to an old friend of mine who recommended the program, Onward Israel, and just a month and a few interviews later, I was signed up for what would be the summer of a lifetime. The program itself is organized by the city that college students are originally from or by the city they are currently studying in. This was because the local Jewish Federations were highly subsidizing the program, which was why this program stood out to me. Rather than signing up for any random Israel program, this Onward Israel group from Baltimore required me to bring back what I learned with me to the city to educate others. Before I even began my internship I knew it wasn’t going to just be another few words on my résumé. There was a greater purpose.
I also wasn’t alone in the process of finding a perfect internship once I had been accepted to the program. As participants, we were contacted by an internship coordinator who was trained to find an Israeli internship to meet our professional goals. With the help of ours, Tamar, I had multiple Skype interviews with companies. Though the time difference broke into my normal class hours, I worked tirelessly to really decide on a company I liked. I found Headline Media, a public relations firm in Tel Aviv that fit the bill and was mostly staffed with English speakers with vast international journalism experiences. I had found a legitimate company that not only would allow me to become accustomed to Israel but also would give me a strong internship experience.
On my first day I was given my own PR account and was expected to have a press release, which I had never written, prepared by the next day. I had never had an internship where real responsibility was given out to me. It was always just one Excel sheet to alphabetize or Google Alerts to manage. From just the first day I realized the choice to intern abroad was giving me real experience because the idea of “free work” (i.e. internships) doesn’t exist outside of America. In Israel they wanted the free work I was doing to be meaningful because they simply didn’t know any alternative. They also knew that by 4 p.m., everyone would head out from their offices and hit the beach in downtown Tel Aviv, so my work hours were never wasted, and I never got busy work. In Israel you work hard and play harder.
I can and now want to challenge the rest of IU to think outside the box, or “think outside the résumé” if you will, to get a more meaningful internship experience.
If we remove the mindset that internships are just for our résumés, we could actually enjoy ourselves. As children, our summers were filled with beaches and playtime with friends, why should exploring careers be any less fun?
IU senior in
Communication and Culture