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Unexpected Perks of Having an Internship

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Obviously an internship is valuable for the standard reasons— gaining corporate experience, strengthening your career prospects post-graduation, adding another resume point. And getting paid is definitely an advantage as well. However, there are some unexpected perks of an internship that should give you even more incentive to seek internship experience.

1. All of your family and friends think you are having the time of your life (which you are).

One of the definite perks about having an internship that I did not realize until this summer is having the opportunity to explore the city in which your internship is located. A year ago last summer, I interned at a company located in my hometown, and although it was great corporate experience, I definitely did not enjoy myself as much as I did at my summer internship with USAA in San Antonio.

My impressions and the differences in the two internships were significantly affected by how I approached my internship this time around. I was too comfortable with the internship that was located in my hometown, and I did not go out of my way to bond closely with other interns or explore the city. I had family and friends at home, so I stayed within my comfort zone and spent most of my summer not doing anything incredibly memorable or exciting.

Since I was unfamiliar with San Antonio and had no family or friends located here, I decided to fully commit and take advantage of the opportunity to be in this new city. I actively sought out other interns in order to explore and enjoy the unfamiliar city. I went hiking at Enchanted Rock, tubing at the Comal River, swimming at Pedernales Falls and in-depth exploring all over San Antonio. Every weekend there was a new adventure — hiking trails to explore, farmers’ markets to peruse, ice skating to enjoy, and local events and landmarks that are unique to San Antonio (Riverwalk, Japanese Tea Gardens, turtle races).

2. You are treated as a co-worker, not “just an intern.”

I have never once had to get coffee during my internships. For the two internships I have had so far, neither of them ever involved me getting coffee, printing copies or grabbing food for anyone. As an intern, I was treated as a full-time employee candidate, which meant they expected and assigned me responsibilities equivalent to what their full-time employees do. Sometimes, it seemed as if interns were treated even better than full-time employees; the company went out of its way to host special events, assign mentors and give company goodies for you to proudly wear and use.

Even though you are an intern, an internship is essentially a prolonged interview process. The company has firsthand exposure to seeing what abilities and skills you have while simultaneously evaluating your potential for full-time hire upon graduation. On the same hand, remember that you are interviewing them as well. As with any job, the hiring decision is a mutual agreement, as much as the company may like you, you need to like it as well. Never settle for a job — especially if you are a pursuing a career at the company.

3. The company sponsors events, and this sometimes means free food!

A great company will always put in the effort to make sure that you feel comfortable. At USAA, many of the interns are out-of-state interns, and the company actively puts in the effort to host social events, speaker series and fun contests to make interns feel more comfortable and involved with their intern class and the company. On top of this, there are other mentor relationships, company organizations and facilitated groups that are all meant to ensure that your time spent as an intern is meaningful and enjoyable. During my time there, there were company-sponsored events at Topgolf, a baseball game and go-karting. On top of that, at some of these events, there was free food, and who doesn’t like free food?

4. You meet like-minded people and stay friends with great people.

This may be cheesy, but I never would have imagined myself becoming close to other interns during this internship. I mean, how close can you get to complete strangers in ten weeks? I suppose it is similar to starting your freshman year of college. When you are at your new university, everyone is very willing and eager to make new friends and connections. If you are going to be in an internship for the summer, I am sure there are things you want to do — exploring, eating, shopping — that you may not want to do alone, which is why having a buddy or group of friends is always great. This is the perfect opportunity for you to step outside your comfort zone and enjoy your experience because everyone is in the same boat as you.

The interns I met at USAA were my core group of friends this summer, and they were not even the interns that were in my same department. We were constantly going on semi-spontaneous adventures on the weekend, and I always had a buddy to have lunch with me. In risk of sounding very sentimental, I am going to miss the friends I made this summer. This includes my manager, project leads and the department friends I met. There are people I highly value and respect as friends, and I fully intend to keep in contact with them.

I was not expecting it, but I definitely was sad when I headed back home at the end of this past summer. Don’t get me wrong; I was beyond excited to see family and friends back home, but I truly felt like I left a piece of myself in San Antonio. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and my experience there, and the ten-week internship flew by. Your college years are the best years of your life, and my internship has definitely been a contributing factor to that statement. 

Melissa Huang

Melissa is a senior Accounting and Finance major at UT Dallas who is pursuing her Master's in Accounting through the Professional Program in Accounting (PPA). She writes about topics she's passionate about and hopes that her articles come out coherently. Melissa loves crunching numbers, participating in outdoor activities (hiking and swimming), and smiling way too much. Read more articles

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