Well, I’m here. Now what?

By Dean’s Intern Ana Srikanth at USA Today

I was in my Arabic class early one Wednesday morning when I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize. I have no idea what possessed me to pick up the phone, but I did, and accepted the offer to intern at USA Today this summer.

From the very beginning, I knew I was lucky to be there. I gave Brent Jones – the director of the internship program – my resume at AU’s Job & Internship fair a couple weeks earlier and he decided to give me a chance. I’ve only just finished my first year in college! I don’t have half the schooling or experience as the other interns, so I hadn’t even expected to get such an opportunity. To be honest, I was preparing to spend the summer working retail or at a local restaurant near home. A USA Today Internship? Definitely a step up.

As I stepped through the huge glass doors on my first day I was counting my blessings, but at the same time I realized that how I got there didn’t matter even half as much as what I did afterwards. It can be really easy to come in every day at 9, do your work diligently, clock out at 5, and pass the summer by, but I was determined that wouldn’t be me. How? Well I figured I’d start with a list. Goals that I wanted to reach by the end of the summer. Here are the first three I’ve managed to accomplish:

  1. Meet with Brent. From day one, Brent Jones had made it clear that he was here as a resource for us, but it was up to me to take advantage of that. When I made my first meeting with him, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was nervous – what would I say, would I say the right things or worse would I say the wrong thing? I shouldn’t have bothered worrying. Not only was he easy to talk to, but he did a lot of the talking for me – and I came out of just one conversation already wiser. The wealth of information I’m discovering in him and the other people here at USA Today is priceless, and undoubtedly the most valuable part of my internship.
  2. Develop my social media presence. USA Today is making a lot of progress digitally, and part of it is due to their huge emphasis on social media. So far, I’ve had the opportunity to attend workshops and panels with members of their social media team as well as to discuss social media strategies with other interns. It’s not a quick switch – you don’t go from unknown to Twitter-famous overnight – but I’ve learned how to utilize different platforms and better project who I am online.
  3. Have lunch with my supervisor, Corinne Canning.​ A job might only require a supervisor, but a career requires relationships – so what better place to start than over lunch? Conversation came easy, just like talking to a friend, and I’ve been overwhelmed with the kindness she’s shown me. Learning to function in an office environment for the first time can be scary, but her support and patience has made it easy – and made this internship all the more enjoyable.

​I’ve ​still got plenty more goals to accomplish, but I’ve found that in the right environment, and with a little bit of luck, opportunities are just waiting to be found.