This week concludes the first month of my internship at a nonprofit in Raleigh as a communications and community engagement intern.
I have always held a job during undergrad, but it has been less pertinent to the career I intend to pursue after graduation. Since I started at Carolina, I have worked as a laboratory assistant at the Genetic Medicine Building on UNC’s campus. Though the department of biochemistry and biophysics has given me a great deal of experience within a lab setting, I am super excited to see more of what the nonprofit world has to offer; and this internship will provide me with just that.
My first day on the job was an unconventional one for sure. The nonprofit I’m interning for works out of a co-working space in Raleigh called The Loading Dock. The atmosphere of the workspace is extremely laid back and people bring their dogs to work each day. There is even a kitchen (pictured above) with free coffee, draught beer, and bottles of wine for anyone who works in the building. Each organization chooses how much of the area to rent by the month from either the common space desks to work at, some of the private office suites on the second floor, or a combination of the two (which is what my internship site does). While we have two desks in a small locked office upstairs, the six of us instead sit at a table downstairs so that everyone can collaborate on our many overlapping projects. There is also a classroom that can be rented out and three conference rooms of various sizes that members of The Loading Dock can reserve as necessary.
This style of work is something that was immediately unfamiliar to me, as I had either been at a traditional desk job or worked as a lab assistant doing a multitude of tasks that don’t often require paperwork. To have the freedom to come and go as I please and create a schedule that works best for me definitely makes me feel like I am more respected as a young adult rather than an intern.
With this being said, I would like to offer a piece of advice for any of you who may be entering college, or are already enrolled, that worry about holding a job while being a student. Get your priorities in order. Time management won’t work if you don’t know what’s most important. For me, personally, school is first, then comes my work schedule for both jobs. After that, I factor in my club meetings and what time is left over goes to my social life. While this may sound like a lot, it can be done, and is the reality of nearly every liberal arts student.
The most important thing is to make sure the organizations that you have to sometimes cut back on or miss a meeting for are the ones that do not mean the most to you. During my three years at Carolina, I have worked two different jobs, volunteered in a psychology research lab, participated in service-learning volunteer programs, held leadership positions on the Homecoming Committee and a campus a cappella group, and have been a senior marshal on the Life After Carolina committee. These involvements on top of my personal life and relationship have culminated in what can only be described as a pretty busy schedule for most of my college experience. But this is the case for everyone.
Though I cannot speak for everyone and the various circumstances that students may find themselves in, I know it can be done, and there are people and resources out there to help. Through consistent meetings with my advisor and constant planning to ensure my classes were maintained before focusing on extracurriculars, I have been able to keep up with both while accomplishing my goal of graduating a year early. Aside from this, UNC as well as any four-year university has career services, vocational seminars and other events on campus, and writing centers to help with resume and cover letter building, just to name a few. I believe holding jobs and being involved in student organizations throughout college are beneficial for a number of reasons. Nonetheless, it is only possible and well worth it if a certain level of accountability is in place.
If nothing else, put yourself first, and the rest will follow.
Picture from: The Loading Dock Raleigh