What I Have Learned from 10 Weeks in the Real World

My summer as a Merchandise Analyst Intern at Kohl’s has been nothing short of an all around incredible experience. Over the past ten weeks, I have learned more than I ever thought possible, and have experienced my first taste of what a career in the retail world actually looks like. Reflecting on my internship search and my experiences this summer, here are a few of my major takeaways:

1. Just because you don’t get one internship does not mean you won’t get any internship.

This is such an easy thing to tell yourself…after you finally get an internship. One of the most frustrating times during my junior year was from December to March, during which I was on a quest to find the “perfect” internship. I probably applied to about 30 internships, and heard back from maybe five. This is not because I was unqualified (although, that is what I started to convince myself of), but it is easy to forget that thousands of other college juniors are probably doing the same thing you are. Not receiving or hearing back from your “dream internship” can be a punch in the gut, but then again, what really is a “dream internship” anyway? In college, you have never really been in the working world yet, so keeping your options open to all of the possibilities when in your search can open your eyes to interests you may not know you have, or companies you never considered.

2. First impressions are something, but not everything.

Everyone will tell you that on your first day, you need to be on your “A-game” and that you should be dressed to the nines, but in reality, this should be something you are thinking of everyday of your internship. Your first day is very important, don’t get me wrong, but when I think about what I have done this summer or the impression I gave, I don’t think that what I was wearing or how firm my handshake was is in the forefront of my manager’s mind. These are important qualities, but it’s almost a given that each college student should possess these skills. What you do in the weeks following that initial meeting are what people remember you by, and whether or not you are able to back up a great first impression is what really counts.

3. Don’t let one small thing keep you from opening your mind to new experiences. 

Candidly, I was very hesitant to move to Milwaukee this summer for my internship with Kohl’s. I knew it was a great company and that it was awesome opportunity to have earned, but I was hesitant to leave behind my friends who would now be eight hours away in Columbus. I am more than thankful that my parents encouraged me to take a risk and move here for the summer, because it has completely paid off, and then some. One thing my mom always says to me is, “Don’t wait around and make your decisions based on what everyone else is doing, because they aren’t waiting around for you, and then you’re going to be the one left behind.” I was so worried that I would be missing out on fun summer happenings in Ohio, but passing up an amazing opportunity like this because of that would have been one of the biggest mistakes I could have made.

4. Sometimes what you are looking for comes when you are not looking at all. 

That may sound cheesy, but by the end of my internship search, I felt very defeated. I had spent more time looking for a job than I did on anything else during those three months, but was having no luck in finding something that really fit all that I was looking for. I met a Kohl’s recruiter at the spring internship fair, and interviewed on a whim. During the interview process, it became very clear to me that this company invested a great deal of effort and time into their internship program, and this was very exciting to me. I had never considered Kohl’s as an option before, mostly due to the location. However, just when I was ready to give up, what I would soon find to be an amazing opportunity showed up, and I couldn’t be more thankful that it did! I can’t stress enough what keeping an open mind can do for you, I just wish I had realized it sooner!

During my last few days at Kohl’s I am trying to soak in anything and everything I can! It has been an incredible summer, and I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to play a small part in such a big operation!

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