During my summer internship at ProActive Communications, I have become aware of a significant difference between work and college. As part of the ProActive DPR team, my work impacts others in a way that schoolwork simply cannot.
For example, one of my responsibilities as an intern was to write drafts of blog posts and other materials, which would then be reviewed, changed as necessary, and provided to our clients. I researched to find the best sources. I wrote with a purpose, to make a point. I had to be mindful that not every resource and not every potential story angle were valid. Every media interaction that you can control must relate to client objectives. Otherwise, you’re putting information out just for the sake of publishing something, and it does not benefit you.
It’s true that broadly speaking, this is how students are taught to write. But papers can be about a huge range of topics. You can argue for almost any angle, even if you completely disagree. You need have no interest in mind except those of your GPA. You are graded on structure and on the logical flow of the argument, not on the widespread impact that your writing creates (or does not create). School is a solo endeavor, but at work you are part of a team and your work affects others.
Fellow college students, try to get an internship where you can realize this difference before you graduate. Get an internship where you do something. That seems simple, but I have many friends who work at internships where their main responsibility is to pour coffee and make copies. Working at ProActive has given me great, practical work experience. As my internship draws to a close and I begin my junior year of college, I know I will take this knowledge with me both to school and to a future workplace.