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After completing my first internship last semester, I want to share my experience and and help you take a huge step in building your personal brand.

Ask Yourself: "Is This Really What I Want to Do?'

I'm sure your initial answer to this question will be yes, but I ask you to dig deeper and consider the following: Are you looking for an internship just to have something to put on your resume? Do you just want to be able to tell people you interned somewhere? Do you feel like you're behind and want something to make you feel better about yourself? Or do you really want to put in the work and be the best intern that you can be?

Those questions may sound intense but it will quickly become very clear if you take an internship for the wrong reasons. First, you won't find a natural connection between your values and the company's values. As a result, you won't enjoy or appreciate your responsibilities because you don't find them meaningful. Your relationship with your supervisor will suffer and your overall experience just won't be worth a small part of your resume or a cool title.

However, if you want the internship for the right reasons, it will show. You'll feel excited about applying, challenged and motivated by your potential responsibilities, and ready to gain valuable experience to enhance your personal and professional brand.

Start Small

You may be tempted to only apply to huge corporations, big brand names, or high-paying opportunities. Even though you're worthy of these positions, it's difficult to secure a big role, especially as a freshman or sophomore. These big companies are definitely worth an application but don't overlook applying to those lesser known companies.

Before you think about an internship, I recommend starting even smaller by joining organizations that support you career goals. I was able to work my way into a few leadership positions and skill building opportunities. This experience gave me something to show recruits without having prior industry experience. I was full of things to talk about during my interview and didn't feel so "unexperienced" in unfamiliar settings.

After getting involved in some organizations, I found a small fashion retailer based in New York City that was looking for a Remote Business Administration and Social Media Management Intern. Despite never having heard of the brand, I emailed my resume, and after an interview, received the position. One woman, the CEO and Creative Director, ran the entire company, meaning I worked closely with her daily. I got to see the in's and outs of how the business ran from the perspective of a black, female, small business owner. At that point, it really didn't matter that none of my friends recognized the name of the company when I told them about it because I was getting real, valuable business experience from this small brand.

Although there was little room for career growth with the company, I still gained incredible experience and skills from my internship with a small business. Now, I can take this experience to my future applications, interviews, and roles and build upon it. Overall, just remember that bigger isn't always better and sometimes a working with a smaller company is exactly the next step you need in your career journey.

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