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Internships offer valuable, sometimes unexpected experience

By Darian Eswine, Web editor

Everyone told me when I went into college…“Get as much internship experience as possible.” And when I started college, I kept thinking that I would never be able to really gain that much experience my first year in college. Well, I was definitely wrong.

At Franklin College, I’m double majoring in English and journalism, and minoring in creative writing. I will be entering my sophomore year at Franklin in the fall and so far I have had 3 internships in one year, plus other work experience.

So far I have interned with the Indiana High School Press Association as web editor, I interned at reporting Indiana politics over Winter Term, and this summer I am the intern at The Conrad Caldwell House Museum—a historic home in Louisville, Kent. I am also freelance reporting for the News and Tribune.

That is a lot of professional experience to gain in one year and I am so thankful for all of these opportunities. Internships really do help you to establish yourself in the professional world and it gets your name out there to people who may decide to work with you in the future.

I’ve learned different lessons through each internship, such as with IHSPA—I may not know everything about technology and Google can be my best friend. Or with TheStatehouseFile—I always freak myself out because I’m nervous about the job, but I end up having a great time and I need to go in with confidence. With the News and Tribune, I’ve learned that writing for a daily paper keeps you very, very busy.

My current internship is actually what I want to focus on a little bit, though. When I tell people I’m an English/journalism major and I’m interning at a historic home, I often get interesting looks, including from a couple of my professors. It doesn’t really fit the type of experience most people look for. But, this internship has already helped me so much professionally and personally.

When I came here, I thought it would be a social media/marketing internship. It didn’t turn out to be that exactly, but I love what it is. It is my job to design the majority of the flyers and profile sheets to advertise our tours and events. I also designed the first issue of the new monthly newsletter. One thing I did not expect to be doing was giving tours of the 3-story home of which I originally knew nothing of the history, but I am giving them, talking for an hour about the circa 1908 set-up, the 450 pound pocket doors, and the intricate oak carvings throughout the home—and it is maybe the most fun thing about my job.  I answer phones, work the gift shop, set up for events, and clean the dishes after. That last part may not sound fun, and even I questioned it the first time I had to fill a sugar bowl, thinking—is this really what I’m here for? But I checked myself quickly.

You see, for an extremely small non-profit like the Museum, everyone has to pitch in and do everything. I was doing dishes and filling sugar bowls right along side our Executive Director and Assistant Director. We all answer phones, give tours, and work the gift shop. It’s just part of everyone’s job description.

I have learned a lot about teamwork and jumping into tasks. I had only worked here three days when I gave my first tour. I had to give an hour tour, talking the whole time about the history of the home (which I received in 12 pages of an informational packet) and I had to have the confidence to act like I knew what I was talking about even if I wasn’t so sure.

After three days I gave that tour and although I’m pretty sure my face looked like a sweating tomato the whole time, I was so relieved when I finished it and it had gone well. And now I love giving them, because I actually do know what I’m talking about.

I’ve learned social skills, as well. I am an extremely shy person at first (once you get to know me I can talk for hours,) so that’s really why I was so nervous about the tours and talking to people who came to see the home. I worry so much about what I say and how I act. This position forces you to talk to people, whether at a wedding show talking to brides, giving a tour talking to participants, or pouring tea talking to guests.

My whole point here is, internships are incredibly important to professional experience and life in general. They will help you develop skills you may not have known you had and set you up to be ahead of the game when you get a job later in life.

With The Conrad Caldwell House Museum—do not be afraid to try something different—maybe not even in the realm of what you are studying. Some adults and educators may think that is bad advice, but I have learned that you can’t find out what you really love to do unless you experiment. With the historic home, I’ve been able to connect my major to it, but I’ve also gained experience in event planning and non-profit work. Those are skills that could prove to be useful later in my career. Just because it’s not a “journalism internship” or “English internship,” doesn’t mean it can’t fit what I’m looking for and assist me in my personal and professional life.

It was a large step outside of my comfort zone and I’m glad I took it.

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