To Intern or not to Intern
Written by Jenna Ghassabeh
My experience at Kits for a Cause and how it changed my perspective on business
As my first year of university drew to a close I found myself having a bit of an identity crisis. When you’re on your own for the first time and your education and career is finally in your own hands, you’re faced with the overwhelming decision of……. WHO THE HELL DO I WANT TO BE? I’ll be the first to tell you, Adulting is really really hard and not just because utilities are expensive and the realization KD doesn’t have all the food groups is a sad one. Its hard, because you have to figure out what you want to do and how you want to spend your time. You are torn between making a difference or making money, following your passion or following the job market and you’re still not sure if all of your interests are genuine, or part of a millennial phase. I mean I think I genuinely like avocado toast and mom jeans ….right?
As summer was rapidly approaching I was faced with two decisions that ultimately were going to shape the beginning of my adult career (EEEEK). I could work at a big company with a big name and small values, doing scanning and shredding for four months all while being absolutely miserable, or I could do an internship somewhere I was passionate about. Interns work harder, work longer, and make less, but come out if it with experience, newfound passions, connections and tangible portfolios (Can you see where this is going?). While to me the decision to pursue an internship was a no-brainer, to my surprise many of friends looked at me like I had 3 heads upon hearing I was pursuing an unpaid internship with a small startup social enterprise (Yes you guessed it! That small social enterprise is my beloved KITS).
Social Coordinator Jennifer, Chief Kits Officer Lauren and Jenna volunteering as a team at #ProjectWater
I struggled to justify my decision to those around me and as my start date crept closer. I questioned if I had made the correct decision to sacrifice the big company name and comfortable salary (think of how much avocado toast I could buy….) I had to wonder was it worth it? The truth is, I could never picture myself sitting alone in an office, spending what I’ve constantly been reminded “Are the best years of my life” doing meaningless work to try and get a foot in the door with a company that wouldn’t care about me. I didn’t think I could manage to do something so contradictory of my passions.
My first day at Kits I walked in a little overdressed, a little over eager and had 0 expectations, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was immediately welcomed by the Chief Kits Officer Lauren and her warmth and attention. I was introduced to every person in the Bargains group and on my first day had a conversation with almost everyone in the building before I left that evening. I was invited to sit in on meetings, phone calls, and strategic conversations because my learning was their priority. My first task was to do research and investigate what The Bargains Group did, what the purpose and mission of this company were and develop a key understanding of my role and how I would contribute. My love for this organization developed rapidly and deeply and the skills and opportunities I’ve been afforded as an intern are insurmountable. My views are considered, my opinions are valued, and my learning is fostered by the incredible individuals who work here.
Jenna celebrating her 19th birthday with our (photobombing) team!
It didn’t take me long to realize that the model of this business checked off what I thought were three impossible boxes. It is socially responsible, has the potential to be financially lucrative and is a positive environment that provides room to grow. I always assumed that good business meant stiff suits, serious conversations, and a focus on nothing except for money. I always thought that social innovation was great, but not a sustainable career that would be left behind in my past. I was proven very wrong. For the first time in a long time, I was excited about my future job prospects because a weight was lifted from my shoulders. I realized I was gaining applicable skills that actually make me a competitive applicant for future jobs and I understood good business doesn’t = bad people and making difference doesn’t = unemployment.
So here is my advice to your world (I know you didn’t ask) if you’re a student out there trying to decide what you want to do and who you want to take a second and ponder what it is you care about. I’ll give you hint, you should care about you employers willingness for you to learn, you should care about the social responsibility of the company you work for, and you should care about how you are treated as an employee. As I’ve mentioned, I’m a new adult and I can’t pretend to know everything but I do know this; working at Kits has changed my perspective on my future career and what a business should look like. So to those of you wondering whether or not to take that internship where you can make a change, DO IT!