Interning out of your comfort zone

Mary Mahan, Contributing writer

(Official White House Photo by Myles Cullen)  This photograph is provided by THE WHITE HOUSE as a courtesy and may be printed by the subject(s) in the photograph for personal use only. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not otherwise be reproduced, disseminated or broadcast, without the written permission of the White House Photo Office. This photograph may not be used in any commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

(Official White House Photo by Myles Cullen)

This photograph is provided by THE WHITE HOUSE as a courtesy and may be printed by the subject(s) in the photograph for personal use only. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not otherwise be reproduced, disseminated or broadcast, without the written permission of the White House Photo Office. This photograph may not be used in any commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

As a college student, whether you like it or not, you have to take on an internship before you graduate. So why not make the most of it?

North Greenville University senior digital media major, Adam Kelly did just that.

During the start of his junior year, fall of 2018, Kelly began thinking about what sort of internship he wanted to apply to. Would he choose a close to campus, minimal-hours gig that he could do during a semester? Did he want to look for a place close to his hometown of Moncks Corner during the summer? Or did he want to apply for something crazy-far away, somewhere like California, just to see if he would get accepted?

As he was contemplating his options, professor Heidi Blossom posted an internship opportunity on the Mass Communication Facebook page like she frequently did. Adam admits that he didn’t initially see it because he doesn’t check that page as frequently as he should, but his good friend, Harley Watkins sent him the link to the internship post saying, “if you don’t apply for this, I will for you.”

That internship application link was for the spring of 2019 White House Internship Program.

“Harley new that I wanted to become more politically aware and expand my scope on potential internships so she sent me the link. I don’t often check my notifications for Facebook so I’m glad that she did,” Kelly said with a smile on his voice and laughter in his tone.

The position would be located in Washington, D.C. obviously, and it was a spring internship so Kelly knew that he would have to take a semester off of school. He decided to go through with doing the lengthy online application process anyway just to see if he would get in.

Part of that long application process requires that you list at least three areas that you would like to work in if you were to be selected he chose the photo office (Kelly does photo shoots with friends and students on and off campus), speech editing office (Kelly writes for Vision Media’s online newspaper and magazine at NGU), and the tour office (Kelly can always be found helping out during NGU’s open house by giving tours of the Mass Communication department).

After an extensive background check, answering a few political opinion questions and collecting a few solid references, Kelly’s White House application was completed and virtually sent off. Now the waiting.

Kelly received his internship verdict while out eating pizza one night with friends. He commented on the moment with wide eyes, “I was really nervous opening the email, I didn’t want to have to act like I wasn’t upset if I didn’t get the position. But I got it and I don’t think I said a single word the rest of the night.”

He had been accepted as a Spring 2019 White House Intern and had been assigned to the White House photo office.

Kelly said, (insert quote about not thinking that he would get in, 12-minute mark). He thought that going to such a small Christian school in the middle of nowhere would be overlooked or not taken seriously but he hadn’t been overlooked. They were impressed by his stance on his opinion questions and his campus involvement with student government.

Now that he has been accepted, Kelly had to face the reality of living eight hours away from his friends and family and taking time off of his schooling for a whole semester.

He stated that his family and friends had told him that they’d make a trip up to see him before he left and that the school would allow him to take a few independent study courses to keep on track but he still felt torn about going. He didn’t want to miss a number of his friends’ senior year, “I have a serious fear of missing out and I especially didn’t want to miss some of my closest friend’s senior year.” He was nervous about doing an unpaid full-time internship, so he wouldn’t be able to work for any income while he was there.

Regardless of his nerves and reservations, Kelly sent back to the White House internship coordinator that he would accept his slot in the program. Kelly said that even though he was still really nervous about it all his friends and family convinced him that this was too much of a large, incredible opportunity to let nerves get in the way of.

Kelly was supposed to head to Washington around mid-January but due to the government shutdown was not able to until February. Kelly admitted that the delay in his arrival only added to his tensions. His family drove up separately with him to help him move in and say farewell once he was fully moved in to the host family that God had blessed him with.

Kelly had the weekend to settle into his new home and explore the DC area before his internship would become full swing at the beginning of the coming week.

He said, “Once I moved into my house and got to meet a few of the interns I would be working with I felt a little less stressed about anything. Actually, I don’t really think I had come to terms that this was what I was doing all semester until that point.”

The first few weeks were a whirlwind. Between learning what a normal day looked like working at the White House and living in DC, having to continue doing school work and meeting so many new unbelievable people it went by quickly. But sometime in all of the rush and excitement of the first month and a half, Kelly new that he had made the right decision.

Because he didn’t let his anxieties about going somewhere far away keep him from he would have never got to experience this once and a life time opportunity. Kelly said “If I would have never been encouraged by friends to do an internship I was hesitant about, I would have never grown academically and culturally. I would have never been able to meet students from around the country, photograph the cherry blossoms around the tidal basin with White House equipment, be in the room for the First Lady’s Be Best Initiative full of high end officials and getting to show my friends around the city that I had got to love and know so well.”

When thinking about your internship as you approach your junior and senior year, thing big. Yes, apply to some places you’re interested around your school, but don’t let your fears keep you from applying to that film gig in Atlanta, or that publishing spot in New York, or that research facility overseas. You never know what doors God will open for you.

Kelly said, “Do everything in your power to do that out-there internship. You applied, you turned in that application, so don’t let the fear of accepting it and going after it out shadow that desire.”