I Followed My Dream For Free

Medical students and interns working on patient diagnosis project
Medical students and interns working on patient diagnosis project

When I was in college I felt entitled. I probably would not have ever said that out loud then and I surely would have never allowed anyone to tell me that except maybe my mom and even that would have resulted in an eye roll, but seriously I felt that way. I felt that just because I had written a few great papers, done a few great presentations that I DESERVED to get paid for every internship that I ever worked at. I mean why not? Some of my classmates who never showed up to class were getting paid to work on their internships so surely I deserved to get paid as well, right? Wrong. God had a different agenda for my life and now that I have been in the full time workforce for quite some time I am actually thankful I did not get what I thought I deserved then because I would not appreciate where I am now.

I can remember one internship in particular that taught me the most about not only about PR/Marketing but about life.

It was my sophomore year in college and I was convinced that my life was destined for the hip hop industry. Every time a major artist or executive in town I always made sure I positioned myself to be in the room with them rather it was to be a runner (someone who literally ran and got whatever the artist needed) or a volunteer to set up and take down all the props the executive/artist used. I wanted to be in industry and there was nothing or no one who could stop me. Finally one summer I got my wish. I was given the opportunity to go to Atlanta,Ga for the entire summer to intern with my favorite childhood artist at the new record label he had just started. This was finally my big break and while the compensation they promised was not much it was going to be just enough for me to survive on my own, or so I thought. Against my parents wishes (that's a different story for a different day) I set out for Atlanta, GA for the summer. I could not quite afford to live on my own so my cousin connected me with an incredible lady from his church who offered to let me stay in her home for the summer for a small fee. This was going to be an epic summer.

I worked endless hours each and every day doing practically everything at the record label. I oversaw engineering sessions, recording sessions, did all administrative tasks, created 6 figure marketing proposals, handled social media, attended industry events,chauffeur and the list goes on. I was doing more work than the full time employees in the office and not once got the paycheck that I was promised, not one nickel or one dime. For months I would post on social media how great my life was only to log off wondering how I was going to pay the landlord. I even blogged my 100 day journey that summer but never shared with a soul that yes I was having a good time, a good time being broke. I worked hard so I knew I deserved compensation but it just never game. While I hated it then it made me who I am today.

My unpaid internship taught me some very valuable lessons in life that I still cherish today.

  • If you expect money to make you happy you will never be happy
  • It's okay to say no
  • Everything that glitters isn't gold
  • Believe only half of what you see and none that you hear
  • What you complain about today could be what someone else is praying for

I would love to hear what your unpaid internship experiences taught you about life. Share them in the comment section below. If you want to read some more of my thoughts or learn more about me visit my website at She's My Superwoman