It’s officially summer time and you know what that means: the sound of pool splashes, the smell of bratwurst hissing on the grill, and the feel of tired eyes adjusting to the daily 6 a.m. alarm clock blaring for work.
Wait, what? That’s not how most college students imagine their lives between May and July. Still, every summer, interns pour into offices across the country fulfilling the societal expectation to gain “real world experience” before they’re released into the wild after graduation.
I was an intern. Albeit, not a summer intern, I knew my stay with C&A Industries, Inc. was temporary if I didn’t show my value fast.
Sounds intimidating, right? I won’t lie, I was nervous. But bringing me on board was equally risky for C&A as it was for me, if not more. Then why did I do an internship? Why does this company decide to take a chance on inexperienced students like me by offering a formal internship program? Well, I’m glad you asked!
When I was little, I wanted to be an artist. I loved to draw, but, truthfully, I wasn’t very good. I transitioned through many phases as I graduated from elementary school into middle and high school and beyond. Maybe I could be an astronaut or a teacher, a sports broadcaster or a writer. I figured by the time I made it to college I’d surely have all my questions answered. I was wrong. And I’m not unlike most college students. Sure, Mary-Kate and Ashley had it figured out since they were in diapers, but for the great majority of us, we aren’t born knowing our calling.
Internships are the shopping mall of the business world. Interns get to try jobs on for size and decide if the industry, position, or team is the right fit for them. Before my internship in Training & Development with C&A, I held a position with a publisher doing Journalism and PR work. I had a great boss, but the strict stylistic requirement of press writing, the spur of the moment story-writing, and unpredictability of the amount of work wasn’t for me. Luckily, as the internship came to an end, there were no hard feelings when I left and no scarlet letter on my resume shaming me with a short-lived stay at a full-time job. Plus, I built some incredible relationships with people in business sectors I never would have made if it wasn’t for that internship.
Then, like trying on the perfect pair of jeans, my internship with C&A was my perfect fit. I got my foot in the door, realized I’d struck gold, and worked hard to set myself up for a full-time position after I graduated.
I love the “try before you buy” aspect of internships and it goes both ways. It’s a huge reason companies like C&A Industries offer a formal internship program.
C&A knows the only way to stay relevant in a competitive market is to gain the buy-in of the next generation. Hiring eager, recently educated individuals helps them accomplish that goal. Sure, there’s inevitable risk involved when a company employs a handful of inexperienced students, but the numbers consistently show that interns increase productivity and retention and over half become full-time employees.*
C&A recently welcomed over 20 interns to their Skills for Success internship program. They’re taking the company by storm, filling positions and making an impact in nearly every department and affiliate. I am proud to work for a company that puts stock in the value my generation can and will bring to their organization. With that mentality, only amazing things can come.
I’m not an intern anymore, but it will always be a part of my story, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
* NACE 2013 Experiential Education Survey
Brett Barrington joined C&A Industries in the fall of 2013 as an eLearning Intern in her final semester at The University of Nebraska Omaha. What began as a temporary gig designing online training presentations turned into a full-time Project Manager role where, in addition to being in control of the design and flow of each project, she’s the voice talent as well as the script writer. Brett is also a musician and writer, and believes that listening well and encouraging others makes the world a better place.