Decision: Working at Camp or Getting an Internship

6 Mar

When I was younger, I spent my summers at sleep away camp. To say I loved it is probably an understatement. I would bring up camp everyday and could talk about camp for hours on end. I even had a clock counting down the exact number of days, hours, minutes, and seconds until I went back.

For nine summers I went to camp, both as a camper and counselor, until last summer when I decided I wanted to stay home. I thought I had outgrown camp and that I’d be fine without it. On August 9, I realized just how wrong I was. August 9 is my birthday, but it is a day that I had not spent at home since I turned 8. To me my birthday was a day filled with camp based rituals and every year those rituals remind me of how comfortable and at home I feel at camp. As I sat in bed thinking how different this day would be, all of my memories of camp and my desires to go back came crashing down on me. Teary eyed, I sat there regretting more than ever my decision to stay home.

Now I face a new decision; do I go back to camp or should I get an internship this summer?

One of the first things I did was call the director of my camp. He suggested I read an article about the value of working as a camp counselor. The article suggests that working at camp is valuable primarily because of the real responsibilities and experience that work as a camp counselor entails. There is, however, another side of this argument, which I would like to give. To me, there are three benefits of an internship:

  • Getting a job. Companies often hire their interns for full-time jobs. According to Marilyn Mackes, the Executive Director of the National Association for Colleges and Employers, companies extend full time job offers to almost 70% of their interns. In addition, today’s job market is very competitive and in some fields, such as finance or accounting, relevant internships are a must to land a job.
  • Networking. Internships provide invaluable experiences to meet and network with business professionals and executives who, in addition to becoming part of your network, can serve as references to your skills as an employee
  • Finding the right fit for you. With the exception of those rare few who work at camp their entire career, we all will at some point have to find a real job. Internships offer the opportunity to try out jobs and figure out what we do and don’t like before it really matters. Personally, I want to work in the financial industry. These jobs almost always require at least a two-year commitment to the hiring company. Without a relevant internship, how will you ensure that you are not signing up for two years to do something you hate?

This summer I have decided to get an internship. I’m sure I will miss camp, I might tear up on my birthday again, and I will definitely question my decision, but I’m doing what is best for me and my career. I will always have time to enjoy life and to act like a kid, but I only have one shot at starting my career and I want to make sure I do that as successfully as possible.

by Marc Canarick



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