The Right Fit for an Internship

Maggie Travis is a Master of Arts in Communication candidate. As she gets closer to graduation, she shares her story of that one last requirement she had to fulfill: an internship.

In order to complete my Master’s Degree in Communication at CofC I had to choose whether I would write a thesis or complete a semester-long internship.  Since graduation is a major priority on my list of things to accomplish, I knew I had to make a choice.  While the idea of writing a thesis crossed my mind a time or two, I knew an internship would be valuable and provide me with some real world experience.  In addition, I had never actually held an internship position.  Weird, right? Yes, I have a Bachelor’s Degree and am close to completing my Master’s.  I’ve had jobs (LOTS OF THEM), but no internships.  The time had finally come.

When searching for a good internship site, I had to think long and hard what I truly was interested in.  The idea of working without pay made my stomach hurt, but I knew if I enjoyed what I was doing, it would definitely be worthwhile.  My primary interests: Nonprofits.  Secondary interest: Health.  Final thought: A nonprofit in the health sector. Voilà! I had determined my niche.

Now that I knew where my heart was set, I started searching.  I explored everything from Craigslist to the College’s own career site.  Where did I find the best results? The College’s career site of course! Within the first day, I had scrolled through dozens of internships and found the one I wanted.  According to CofC’s Career webpage, there was an Event Coordinator Internship position open with the American Lung Association.  It was perfect. Having a history of Lung Cancer in my family, I knew this was the right fit.

Within a week I had scheduled an interview and received the position!  When I made it to the American Lung Association (ALA) Office in West Ashley, I was fairly surprised at the small space given to such a great cause.  I thought: How can people give an organization that does so many good things, such a small rental? In addition, the office was run by only two women.  What?! How can two women in the entire Lowcountry region of South Carolina do SO much? Well, I learned something new about nonprofits that day.  Most nonprofits have a small team of people working for them and making the difference.    The funds coming in go to the cause, not a large group of employees.  Makes sense right?

While it was odd to work with so few people, I actually came to prefer it.  Most interns (from what I’ve heard) do busy work, run errands, etc.  This internship with ALA allowed me the opportunity to give suggestions, provide feedback, and truly feel like a connected entity of the ALA family.

So far, my experience with ALA has been great.  While my bosses have continued to keep me busy, I love what I do.  From creating advertisements, to contacting grant makers, to providing design input on the latest “Fight for Air” campaign, I have enjoyed it all. This internship has helped me apply what I have learned thus far in my graduate courses to a real world (nonprofit) experience. I now know that the nonprofit sector is where I need to be, and I feel much more prepared to take on the real world come May.

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