Dear Classy Career Girl, I just graduated and I have not been actively looking for a full time job. I think why is because I don’t really know what I want yet. Then I got an idea to intern for something I’ve wanted to try. I told my mom about this and she said whatever I want to do but then she told me about a position for a project manager. Initially I said no, I’m not qualified. Which was followed by a debate as to why I should take a ”real” job as opposed to an internship wherein they’ll just “use” me. At this point, I’m doubting myself. Please help. – Confused Post Grad Girl
Dear Confused Post Grad Girl,
I think internships are a great idea! I actually did an internship when I was working full time also and I learned a ton. I was in school also so I called it an independent study but it was really great to get into a different industry. I would recommend though that maybe a full time unpaid internship isn’t the way to go right now if you need to have an income (or your mom wants you to). I have a friend right now who is taking a part-time unpaid internship and she is working her butt off because she hopes she can turn it into a full time job in the Fall.
Most of the successful people that I have talked to all had internships that turned into another job that was something awesome. If I didn’t have an internship, I never would have gotten my full time job so don’t let other people tell you that you are being “used” during internships. The internship is what you make it. If you don’t learn and grow and do whatever you can to get into that field during the internship, then an internship is not for you. But if you work your butt off during that internship and the employer sees how awesome you are, you will be amazed by what doors could open for you in your future.
Also, I recommend talking to people who are in the fields that you are interested in. For example, talk to someone in jewelry design and see what they say about their jobs and what their typical day is like. If you really want to try jewelry design, I would apply for the internship and just see what happens. Especially if you can afford to not have an income right now by living with your parents. You can always work on nights and weekends if you need to pay rent, etc. and the internship doesn’t pay. You never know if you don’t apply for it and even if you don’t get the job, you may be able to develop a future networking connection through the interview as well. And in the interview, you would get more of an idea of what the internship is like and what it is like to work in jewelry design. But, you would never learn those things if you don’t apply. Same with the project management job, you would probably learn a ton just by going on the interview so why not. If you get an offer but still don’t think it would be a good fit, you don’t have to take the job. But, you aren’t hurting yourself by at least applying for it.
I also think that you could change your mindset about not being qualified for the program manager job. All jobs out of college you really have no experience for. But hiring managers know that and they know that they will have to train you because you are right out of college. So if you can maybe start thinking more positively about all of the amazing things you bring to the table even if it wasn’t specifically project management. Actually, project management is pretty broad so you might be totally qualified for the job if you have ever organized a project or team during college.
Also, instead of being overwhelmed by all the choices of types of companies, etc. just try one. It might not be perfect but that is the only way that you will learn whether you like it or not. Talking to people in big companies and startup companies, etc. will also help you figure out which ones are right for you. I hope this helps.
Main point, don’t let other people convince you of things that you should do. You will end up being unhappy.
That is one thing that successful business women always tell me in my interviews with them. If design is what you want to do, keep focused on it and don’t let anything stop you. Don’t take a certain career field to please someone else. And above all else, keep learning. Even if you take the project management job, try jewelry design on the side and learn more about it everyday. Your options aren’t just this one position or that position. You can do both! Think of “and” opportunities instead of “either/or” opportunities.
-Classy Career Girl
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