Two Ways to Spend Your Summer Internship

A lot of you are about to spend your summers interning around the country. When I was a student, I was lucky enough to spend my summer between semesters at GSD&M in Austin. I had some friends whose internships I was jealous of, while others went to places I’d never send my book to. Yet we all had similar experiences, and none of us made or broke our careers on our three-month stints.

But over the years, on the agency side I’ve seen several interns come and go, and I’ve decided that there are really only two ways to spend your summer internship:

1. Work hard. These interns come in, figure out who the best team in the agency is and work as late as they do no matter what. They ask the CDs for advice. They meet as many people as possible and ask other groups for any spare assignments. They reschedule their lives around the agency.

2. Play hard. These interns need a slight brake from portfolio school. They work hard at the agency, but they leave around five or six and enjoy the city. They probably go to more concerts, see more museums, and go on more dates.

I’m not saying one is better than the other. They’re just different. I’m not suggesting that you can’t blend them and do both. But of all the interns I’ve seen over the last few years, I could easily put them in one of these two camps.

So before you create your Adventures of a Summer Intern blog, I’d recommend you figure out which camp you’ll be in, and stick to it. Decide you’re a Hard Worker, and keep yourself from burning out. Or decide to be a Hard Player, and keep yourself from regretting not having done more to impress your CDs.

(We've put a poll on the main page to see how you’d rather spend your summer internship. Cast your vote, and keep in mind “working hard” is not a guarantee of leaving a lasting impression and landing a job after graduation.)