Juggling Expectations and Reality in an Internship

What do you expect going into an internship? Internships are a big deal. Before you dive right into one, it’s important to acknowledge what you’re expecting.

What I expected.

Even with knowing each internship works differently, I thought I would have the stereotypical internship experience and would be making coffee, fetching snacks, grabbing lunch, running all sorts of errands. Even though I expected it to be mundane, I stayed hopeful that I would gain some resume-worthy experience. I was ready to write a press release and spend time in the social media department. I dreamed of working alongside a hard-working team of friends and mentors. 

What I got.

My first day was a disaster in my mind. Immediately, I was instructed to start filing papers for the accounting department. Are you serious? Sure enough, it was serious. Most of my interning hours were spent filing papers. This is not the exciting PR internship I wanted. What about the press releases? What about the social media department? What about the hardworking team? 

What I learned.

I quickly realized the internship I had was not the internship I had expected. I also realized that I was holding onto those expectations. The longer I held onto them, the harder it would be to make the most of the internship. It was time to let go. So, I did. Moving forward I filed the papers to the best of my ability; the office ladies became my support system; and every once in a while, I got a coffee. Internships, just like life, don’t always pan out the way you wanted, but it’s the reaction to those situations that make you the person you are.  

What’s next?

So, what do you expect going into an internship? Your expectation of one may change over time but finding success in the small moments may be a game changer.  Recognizing the good in disappointments can change the trajectory of your life and career.  Each internship may vary, and some might not be a good fit for your interests. Keep an open mind about the new experience you are starting. It might not always be the picture-esque dream of sipping coffee and writing press releases. 


Anne-Thomas Proctor is a fourth year journalism major, concentrating in public relations at Samford University. She is originally from Louisville, Kentucky and now resides in Birmingham, Alabama. Upon graduating she intends to pursue sports public relations.  

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