Attention Students: Employers Care About What You Can DO, Not Your GPA
It took me until my last true summer as a college student to realize that I needed to get out there and find an internship. The classroom just wasn’t cutting it anymore. Sure, it’s great to learn about marketing theory, but what skills had my classes really provided me? What actually translated to a job?
The answer was “not much…”
Thankfully, I found an awesome company, Power Digital Marketing, that was hiring summer interns and I was able to expand my knowledge-base beyond the classroom walls.
With senior year just a week away, I’m sad to see my time as the Paid Social intern at PDM come to an end. So, to officially wrap up my time here, I jotted down the biggest takeaways from my internship with Power Digital. And, after some deep thinking, the biggest takeaway is clear: you’d be crazy not to take an internship before you graduate college. Here’s why:
The Classroom Doesn’t Do Too Much For You, And Sorry Overachievers, But Neither Does Your GPA :/
For three years I have slaved over textbooks, dragged myself out of bed to attend business classes that I didn’t really care about, and sat through science and history classes in which information went in one ear and out the other. The problem for me was that I wasn’t doing anything about it. I could have been looking for an internship and finding translatable skills I wanted to learn. Instead I just did as little as possible to get by.
In the real world nobody cares about how great your attendance record and GPA were in college. They want to know what you can actually do. What skills do you possess and what can you bring to their team? How will you help them reach their bottom line? At the end of the day, at least in my experience, this has never been taught in the classroom and these skills are not going to teach you how to get a job after graduation. Which brings me to number Takeaway #2.
Internships Help You Develop Concrete Skills
For me, I wanted to dominate Facebook ads. I had no idea really how to use the tool, I just found it to be interesting, powerful, and something I wanted to learn.
I didn’t want to be that intern going out to grab everyone’s coffee, especially when my internship was unpaid. Saying this, I knew I would have to prove myself to be valuable, hard working, and willing to learn. If you go in with this mindset, there is no reason you should leave your internship without your goal completed.
With a week left as an intern, through great guidance from my team, I now have a strong grasp on Facebook Ad strategy and execution.
You Learn What Your Passionate About
I, like many college students, had no clue what I wanted to do after college.
I think this is one of the best things you can get out of an internship. It is a no-risk, all-reward, taste of the real world.
Find an industry you have some interest in, and go learn more about it. If you like it, great, not only did you just build some skills and experience in that industry, but you also found something you can focus on, and maybe get another related internship.
If you didn’t like it, then that’s great too. At least you found out early. Imagine how terrible it would be if you just graduated college without ever having an internship, and have your first job lined up, but absolutely hate it. Back to square one?
I found out that I love digital marketing. It is a constant challenge without a single right answer. There is always room for improvement, it tests your creativity and patience, and you can be a major player in the success of a company.
You Realize That Teamwork Makes The Dream Work
In any company, each team member brings something different to the table. When I began my internship, I made it a goal of mine to find out what everyone’s role was, what skills they had that maybe others didn’t, and find out how I could pick up a little something from everyone to better myself overall.
From Denise I learned how to be extremely detail-oriented. In digital, this is very important. Forget to double-check an ad set, and you could accidently be spending an extra $90 daily, ($100, instead of $10 for example). Over the course of a few days, or even a week, this overspend could be a huge issue. Being detail-oriented is definitely something I hope to improve on going forward and is a great skill to have.
From Emily, I learned how to just put your head down and get stuff done. It always seems like she has so much on her plate, but she just finds a way to get it done. Sometimes the amount of tasks that need to be completed overwhelms me, but I have definitely learned that in order to be efficient you just need to put your head down and get going. More often than not, you will surprise yourself at how much you get done just because you start.
From Mike I learned the importance of any team having a leader. He is extremely knowledgeable for one, and truly cares about everyone on his team. Any team member can approach him if they have any issue with any account. No matter how big or small the issue, he treats it with importance and makes sure to help in any way possible. This brings great stability to the team, and it is extremely helpful to know the team has someone they can go to.
You Understand The Importance Of Company Culture
In addition to finding the right industry, I think finding the right company fit is extremely important.
Maybe a big corporate company is right for you. Some can argue that it is a bit safer, has more structure, and often offers better benefits. This will prove to be a better fit for some people, while it may sound horrible to others.
I found that a startup, like PDM, was a much better fit for me. Being a part of a smaller team, and knowing everyone, is something I value. I like going into work in jeans and a t-shirt. I am depended on more because of the smaller team, and I believe this gives me a better chance to further my skills and role. The overall atmosphere is something I do not believe I could come close to experiencing in a larger company.
With that said, it is important to find out what is right for you. You don’t want to feel stuck someplace you aren’t happy, and an internship is the best way to find out.
Overall, I am extremely happy I decided to finally get an internship. It has provided me with such valuable skills and experience that I now know I could never receive from the classroom. If I could go back, I definitely would have gotten an internship earlier, and if you are a college student yet to have an internship, the time is now.