Internship Expectations vs. Reality


For the past six summers, the pool has been my second home. Lifeguard shifts, nannying, coaching a swim team and my own swim practices kept me there from sun-up to sun-down. This summer, however, I was ready to give up the chlorine burn and hyperactive children to challenge myself with an internship in the PR industry.

Shown above is a typical post-swim meet ritual. After a big win, the children push all the coaches into the pool. I somehow managed to always be the first one pushed in.

Shown above is a typical post-swim meet ritual. After a big win, the children push all the coaches into the pool. I somehow managed to always be the first one pushed in.


This is my first real-world, intern experience. Ever. I guess you can call me a newbie at the cubical-lifestyle. Walking into the building on my first day, I had no real baseline of what to expect. Snippets of conversations from my interviews and stories from friends of their own experiences (both good and bad) jumbled in my head. As the elevator doors opened on the fourth floor, I had no idea how this experience would unfold.

Looking back to that first day, a lot has changed in these past few months. I am happy to report that the reality of my internship experience has surpassed my expectations, which was, quite frankly, a relief.


Expectation number one: Coffee runs and making copies

I left my interview assured of the many responsibilities I would encounter on the job. Yet, I had no bench mark on what “many” constituted. My friends always complained about their grunt work and never ending errands. I had no idea how much responsibility to expect.

The reality is though, within the first week of work, I was elbow-deep in excel spread sheets and analytics. My team treated me as a true member and not just an intern. I’ve enjoyed contributing to the quarterly reports and conducting industry research for presentations.


Expectation number two: “You’ll figure it out.”

Everyone has heard the horror stories of someone showing up for a job to a stack of assignments and no guidance. Would I have to be an expert in Boolean operations or programming excel by day one? I prepared to make Google Search my best friend for the next three months.

My coworkers have been nothing but helpful and encouraging during these past few months. I have yet to dive into a project unprepared and told, “figure it out.” My endless questions are always answered and feedback given to encourage my professional growth.


Expectation number three: The Dreaded Intern Corner

I have heard of internship programs with an invisible wall between them and the full-time employees. Stationed in a separate area, interns tackle endless case studies and busywork rather than client-work.

While there is an intern row, there is also an abundance of communication between interns and the rest of the office. (I should also note that I sit with the research and insights team, and not even in intern row.) We are members of teams, we sit on client calls and our mentors encourage us to provide input. Peppercomm is a close-knit community with comradery across all levels of leadership.


Expectation number four: Regurgitating Lectures

My biggest misconception of what to expect, was the skillsets I would be utilizing. I brushed up on my business and marketing lectures and prepared for everything from SWOT analysis’ to pivot table manipulating.

While this assumption was correct, it just wasn’t the whole picture. Yes, I am using skills I absorbed from college lectures, but I am also pulling from my extracurricular activities and other experiences. I am fortunate enough to have a small liberal arts background that guides me to draw connections and question the deeper meaning on topics. These big picture skills have aided me in my internship experience.

As I look forward to returning to school, I am also sad that I only have a month left as a PeppSquad member. I want to thank everyone who has helped me these past few months and have made my first intern experience memorable.


By: Madeline Simko


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Intern Video

To find out more about life as a Peppercom intern, check out this YouTube video produced by former Peppercomm interns who share their experiences. Click Here