Why Small Organization Internships Are Better Than Big-Name Companies
By Megan Curling, Account Executive
When I was a senior in high school, I had the dream that every journalism student has had at some point in their careers: Intern at the New York Times (NYT). It was the school trip when I dragged my teacher to the building just so I could take the obligatory picture in front of the Chomsky font sign.
In my freshman year at Elon, the internships I heard about were at NBC, CNN, ABC and all of the other major abbreviations you can think of. When it was my time to find an internship, I was paralyzed. I did not know anyone at these companies, I did not have anyone to stay with in these big cities and most of all, I was not even sure if I wanted these internships.
These big, flashy internship titles are great, they carry a weight that makes your LinkedIn stand out, no one can argue with that, but when you sit down and think about it logistically, they are not for everyone. It was this realization that led me to a wonderful first internship at Kaleideum in Winston-Salem, N.C, in summer 2020.
Kaleideum was formed in 2016 through the merger of SciWorks and The Children’s Museum as an interactive museum of arts, sciences, and exploration. As the Communications Intern, I worked under the Vice President of Communications, Leigh Ann Woodruff.
With passions for the intersection of non-profit organization and communication, working in a space I had visited countless times as a child was an unknown dream come true. I worked during the peak of COVID-19 in an office of only seven other people.
I created content for the museum’s first ever virtual fundraising gala, their brand new virtual learning program, while also writing their daily blog and social media posts. It was these experiences that made me fall in love with working in smaller organizations, you get to see the impact of your work first-hand.
On June 25, I attended the press conference that was announced in a press release that I wrote. I sat six feet apart, watching my community see the long-awaited plans for Kaleideum’s new state of the art facility. I watched as the faces of business owners, journalists and parents alike lit up at the prospect of a beautiful new building in the heart of their city.
It can be an adjustment to realize that your words will not be seen at a national level, but at the same time, not once was I expected to fetch someone coffee. I may have had a smaller audience and my social media pages might not be as exciting as this summer’s NYT intern, but I got to see the direct impact of my work on my hometown community.
There is nothing wrong with the big internships, but I urge you to look at the little people when you begin the search for your internship, you might just find a lesser-known gem.