Over three months ago, I made the decision to leave my perfectly healthy job as a graphic design intern at the University of Tennessee. It was a phenomenal experience, but I wanted something more. I wanted to write blogs. I wanted to help with social media. I wanted to learn things I didn’t know about, things I wasn’t learning in school. So, I left the job at the end of the summer with no plan as to what my next step would be and only a rough idea of the “perfect” internship that I hadn’t yet found. I was stressed about money and feeling uneasy as I was beginning to head into my senior year of college without something lined up (I’m a total planner and I don’t do well with uncertainty). I searched and searched and searched until one summer Friday, sitting in bed with my laptop, I found it — an internship posting on UT’s College of Communication and Information website. Blog writing. Social media assistance. Search engine optimization. PAID. (I would’ve done it without that last one, but hey, I’m a poor college student and seeing that word was definitely a plus). I totally freaked out and got that I-think-I’m-about-to-throw-up-but-in-a-good-way feeling. I updated my resume, attached it to an extremely enthusiastic email (I couldn’t help myself), and sent it to Chris at Smarter Searches.
I received a response within two hours asking to set up an interview. The next week, I came into the office for an interview with Courtney and became obsessed with the idea of working for her. I wanted this position SO badly, and while I thought the interview went pretty well, I was almost certain I wouldn’t get it. Fast forward a week and a half, and I received that glorious email from Courtney offering me the internship. As you can probably guess, I was overjoyed and couldn’t wait to start.
Now, I’m a total idealist. I come up with these scenarios and expectations in my head that are almost always unattainable. I have high hopes for the way things will go and most of the time, they don’t end up happening the way I had planned. I can say that this is what happened with Smarter Searches. It didn’t turn out like the beautiful scenarios and ideas in my head — it’s been better. Although my title is technically “intern”, I don’t feel like one. Courtney, Chris, Briana, and Christopher treat me like less of an intern and more like an actual employee. They entrust me with significant responsibilities because they believe I will do an adequate job. They have increased my confidence in myself and my abilities tenfold. They praise my work and take every opportunity to teach me something new.
I love working, but I never thought I would see the day when I would actually be excited to wake up and come into an office. Every day, I stretch my brain and absorb new information. I write, I design, and I learn. I surprise myself. I share a small space with two (sometimes three) of my coworkers and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We talk, laugh, and share stories. At any point in the day, I’m three feet away from some of the most talented people I know. Courtney astonishes me daily with her intelligence, drive, and knowledge. Chris makes everything fun with his wit and sense of humor. Briana brightens my day, and Christopher is always there to ask how I’m doing with a genuine interest in my answer. Each of their unique talents, specialties, and personalities come together to make one strong, dynamic team that I am honored to be a part of. I am so thankful to have an internship that goes above and beyond even my highest expectations, and I have the Smarter Searches team to thank for that!