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My Summer Internship Experience to Date and Advice to Fellow Students

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For many college students, the arrival of summer means relaxation. Late night study sessions cease, stressful examinations come to a halt, and many of the pounds gained during the school year can be worked off. Many students will be spending their time pool-side, soaking up the sun and perfecting their tans, while others will be spending their summer employed as interns.

Internships offer real-life work experience in a prospective career field. For college students, the word "internship" is not unfamiliar, but can be quite frightening. The best way to approach an internship is not as a requirement, but as a stepping stone to opportunities. This post won't serve as a simple guide to getting an internship. This post is for the dreamers, the goal-setters, the doers, and the people who believe that the steps taken now will undoubtedly shape and strengthen their future. The future waits for no one. Never has there been a better time to dive right in.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have known the importance of focusing on my future. My experiences as an intern started as a high school student. I worked for the largest law firm in the state of Kansas. This experience expanded the foundation of my ambitions. The practicalities of a law firm, the education required, and the etiquette that should always be displayed were just a few of the things that I learned. Most importantly, in this position, my lifelong goals were affirmed.

My ultimate goal has always been to attend law school. However, I'm fascinated by politics, and I am a public relations fanatic. With a plethora of career interests and a small amount of indecisiveness, I decided that internships were necessary to hone my skills and explore my varied career interests. I started the process of finding an internship by researching opportunities in the area, which is heavily concentrated in government. I decided that during my time as a college student, I wanted to focus on pursuing opportunities within all three branches of government.

I am currently an intern at the United States Capitol. It has been a phenomenal experience thus far. On a day to day basis, I talk to constituents, attend congressional hearings, and write memorandums. I am often in awe by the diversity of interns. Students come from near and far for this kind of life-changing opportunity. Hands down, the absolute best part of having an internship is networking. Not only do you meet seasoned professionals, but you meet individuals who will likely work in that field in the future.

I recently compared my experience with a few interns at the U.S. Capitol. Here's what they had to say.

Elizabeth Sines, a rising junior at Cornell University:

I have dreamed about interning on Capitol Hill since I was a little girl. When you finally get your foot in the door in a place you have wanted to work for your entire life--the feeling is indescribable. It is so wonderful to walk into work every day and feel like I'm right where I am supposed to be, that I am right where I belong. The connections that I am making, the things that I am learning, the opportunities that are coming my way... none of this would be possible without my internship. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." I urge every young person to believe in their dreams and apply for an internship. Apply for scholarships or work part time if you have to but make it happen! Your future starts now.

Frank Schaafsma, a rising senior at University of Maryland:

One of my favorite quotes is, "The size of your problems is nothing compared with your ability to solve them. Don't overestimate your problems and never underestimate yourself." This quote is valuable for an intern and for life.

An internship may seem intimidating, but it is important to examine your interests in depth so that you can be confident in all of your abilities. As you develop your career path, remember to be yourself and let your natural light shine. Seek out opportunities that reflect what you care about and want to pursue. Most importantly, HAVE FUN!